Objective: Students will compare a picture or pictures of the San Francisco Earthquake with the painting E
vacuation of San Francisco by Sea
by Alexander Coulter (1849-1936). The painting is a panoramic view of the rescue which Coulter did on a 5' X10' shade he had salvaged from the quake. Interestingly, Coulter had been a newspaper artist but lost his job when the quake occurred. He did the painting from sketches he made as he helped rescue people from the city by sea. Coulter also altered the placement of some key structures which would have been hidden by smoke if he had made accuracy his primary focus.
Students will complete a Venn diagram comparing the two media used.
Materials: A photograph of the damaged city. I have chosen to use
Looking toward the fire on Sacramento Street
taken by Arnold Genthe (1896-1942). Genthe was a classical scholar from Germany who taught himself photography. Dorothea Lange worked with him early in her career.
Projector, screen, pencils, Venn diagram graphic organizer.
Introducing the lesson: this lesson could be done as a follow-up to discussing the photo
As the city burns, a group watches the towering clouds of smoke from a safe spot on Russian Hill.
You might show the Coulter work and then the Genthe photo. See if students recognize that one is a painting and the other a photo. Talk about the difference.
Tell them the story of how Coulter made sketches of what he saw and how he altered the placement of buildings in the final painting.
1. Give students a Venn diagram graphic organizer. Have students label one side for the painting and the other for the photograph.
2. Students should recognize that the painting is a reproduction of what happened and the photo shows part of what was happening.
3. Can we trust the photo?
4. How accurate is the Painting? If it is not accurate does that make it less valuable as a
remembrance of the quake and fire? Why? Why not?
5. Students will fill in the Venn graphic with the teacher modeling
Closure of the lesson: Students will have completed the diagram and with continued practice should eventually be able to work in small groups or in pairs to compare and contrast other photos.