A Roman Triumph, about 1630
by Peter Paul Rubens
The National Gallery, London
For 2015/16, the one-day Take One Picture Continuing Professional Development courses, run
by the National Gallery Education team, will focus on 'A Roman Triumph' by Peter Paul Rubens.
Using the focus painting as a springboard, the Take One Picture course will inspire teachers to
look at ways of using paintings in the classroom to promote cross-curricular learning and suggest
ways in to paintings to develop pupils' confidence and skill in responding to images.
This painting is full of tumultuous movement. Lined up in the very foreground of the composition is
a moving procession of figures and animals which parade across the picture from right to left. The
viewers are made to feel like spectators watching the parade from the roadside. Indeed we are not
the only ones watching; other spectators in the middle ground are seated on a raised bank looking
and pointing at the parade. All the figures and animals in the foreground give the impression of
being in movement with their raised limbs, fluttering fabrics, brandished torches and instruments
and swinging trunks.
The picture is not only full of riotous colour and movement but also full of imaginable noises: you
can almost hear the growls of the animals; the horns and pipes being blown by musicians; the
pounding of footsteps. The dancing maidens and animals on the right and left sides of the
composition are abruptly truncated. This adds to the overall sense of movement and gives the
impression that only a section of this continuous parade is made visible, that even more is
happening outside of the frame.
The parading figures in Rubens’ composition depict a Roman ‘triumph’. A triumphal procession
was the greatest honour that could be given to a Roman general and was usually awarded to
celebrate a great military campaign or victory.
A display of work produced by schools based on this painting will be shown at the National Gallery
in Summer 2017, and a selection will be published on this website. To be considered for the
gallery display, you will need to submit an overview of how a whole class or school has used the
picture in a cross-curricular way. A powerpoint slideshow would be preferable, Please do not send
any original artworks. Please send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday
31st October 2016.
Submissions should highlight the process that teachers and learners have used to explore of the
painting, and how this process aims to fulfil the following Take One Picture objectives:
- Promote the visual arts within education
- Raise pupils’ self-esteem and standards
- Promote learning outside the classroom as a means of enhancing learning within the
- Provide a stimulus for building the wider school community
- Enable pupils to build meaningful connections and inspire a lifelong love of learning
© The National Gallery,