Interpretive Resource

Lesson Plan: Urban Space

Lesson Plan: Urban Space

To create a unique view of modern Paris in Paris Street; Rainy Day, Gustave Caillebotte experimented with plunging perspective. By examining the painting, students will learn the conventions of perspective used to create a sense of depth in art.

Suggested Grade Level: 5-8
Estimated Time: One class period

Lesson Objectives

  • Learn to describe and analyze works of art
  • Address perspective and scale in art

Key Terms

Instructional Materials

  • Photocopies of Paris Street; Rainy Day
  • 11" x 17" white paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Rulers
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Scissors
  • Glue



  • Examine the composition of Paris Street; Rainy Day with students. Start by asking:
    • What dominates the right side of the painting?
    • What dominates the left?
    • How did the artist distinguish the left side from the right? (lamppost)
    • How do we know that some figures are close and others far away? (by their size or scale).
  • Explain that the points on the horizon line where people become smaller and buildings seem to disappear are called vanishing points. Ask:
    • How many vanishing points can you see in the painting?
    • What visual elements of the painting draw your eye back to these vanishing points?
  • Pass out a photocopy of Paris Street; Rainy Day and ask students to use rulers and colored pencils to mark the horizon line, vanishing points, and major orthogonal lines.


  • Ask students to make a collage of a contemporary urban scene. Start by giving students a blank sheet of white paper and asking them to draw a horizon line, a single vanishing point, and at least two orthogonal lines above and below the horizon line.
  • Have students look through magazines and newspapers to find pictures of figures, buildings and other city elements in a range of sizes. Encourage them to cut these out and place them in a collage, experimenting with scale along the orthogonal lines before gluing the final composition. Have them try to create a sense of foreground, middle ground, and background through the scale of objects.


In a class "critique," have students discuss their unique urban views and explain how scale and perspective contribute to them. Evaluate students’ participation in class discussion and their creative work.


background (n)
the part of a painting or drawing representing the space behind the figures or objects close to the viewer (in the foreground)

composition (n)
the arrangement of elements such as shape, space, and color in a work of art

foreground (n)
the objects or figures situated in the front of a composition, intended to exist close to the viewer (as opposed to background)

horizon line (n)
the horizontal line in a work of art that forms the apparent boundary between earth and sky

middle ground (n)
the portion of picture space that is behind the foreground but in front of the background

orthogonal line (n)
in linear perspective, a diagonal line drawn to a vanishing point

perspective (n)
scientific method used by artists to represent three-dimensional objects on two-dimensional surfaces. Linear perspective uses vanishing points and orthogonals to make objects seem as if they are receding in space. Some maintain that a crude form of linear perspective was introduced by the Romans, refined by Islamic artists in the middle ages, and rediscovered by Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi in the 15th century.

scale (n)
the relative size of one object in relation to another object

vanishing point (n)
in perspective, the point at which receding parallel lines appear to converge. The vanishing point is often on the horizon line

Illinois Learning Standards
Fine Arts: 25-26

urban life


Fine Arts
Elementary, Middle School

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