Lucretia, 1666

The William Hood Dunwoody Fund, Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Oil on canvas
43 3/8 x 36 5/16 in. (110.17 x 92.28 cm) (canvas)

It is recommended that every lesson begin with a general “looking” exercise to introduce students to the art work. For example, the full screen image of the selected work can be shown to students along with the rollover and zoomify features (see links above.) Teachers should first familiarize themselves with this section using the “About the Work” feature as well as other resources on the web site.

The Circle of Inquiry

The Circle of Inquiry is designed to assist users in applying critical thinking skills to the art works found on the Rembrandt web site. These skills are essential to learning and firmly grounded in the educational process. They can easily be integrated into classroom lessons in order to motivate students to apply higher-order thinking when examining Rembrandt’s work.

It is possible for students, upon observing any work of art, to respond to and ask or answer questions in no specific order. This is perfectly acceptable.

When using the Circle of Inquiry (see full document) from the viewpoint of a thinking process, one suggestion is that a specific order be followed: Describe→ Analyze → Interpret → Conclude. Other users may wish to introduce that skill which is most pertinent to their instructional level and needs. When this critical thinking process becomes internalized and taken to its full potential, it will enhance students’ abilities to think about other works of art and the general curriculum in the same way.

(Click here to access the Circle of Inquiry and select with your mouse a skill to bring up questions in each category.)


1. Throughout history many women have played important roles behind the scenes. Select a country and time period and then research the political role of women in the history of that time and place.

2. Look at the historical development of feminism, the thinkers who have shaped it, and the political, economic, and social issues associated with feminist concerns around the world. Create a timeline of events.
    Women in World History
    Profiles of 300 Women Who Changed the World


1. Introduce your peers to a woman who changed the world. Answer the questions Who? When?, Where?, Why?, and How? The product is your choice- write, draw, diorama etc.

2. Create a product that depicts the role of media in the shaping of the female position in society today.
    Women's History Sourcebook


1. Why do you think Rembrandt painted two versions of Lucretia? How are they the same? How are they different?

2. In what ways do you think the circumstances of Rembrandt’s life influenced the two paintings of Lucretia?
    Art Connected Database, Lucretia
    The New York Times, The Two Lucretias Are Together At Last


1. Compare and contrast Rembrandt’s paintings of Lucretia with Sandro Botticelli painting of Lucretia. (Look at color, light sources, clothing, characters, etc.)

2. Explore other Rembrandt paintings of women and curate an imaginary exhibit of his work. Create an exhibit guide describing the overall theme of your exhibit and the works.
    Wikipedia Image: Lucretia
    Rembrandt's Paintings: A Complete Catalogue
    Olga's: ABC Gallery – Rembrandt


You can create various assessments of what students learned based on the kind of lesson you did. Since you are primarily dealing with a piece of art, qualitative assessments would be of most use. These assessments are most easily accessed by means of questioning. Here are some “starter” assessment questions.

  • What are the most significant [or central/useful/meaningful/surprising] things you have learned during this study?
  • What question(s) remain uppermost in your mind?
  • What are some intriguing ideas from this study?
  • How has this study provoked you to think about ideas in a new or different way?
  • How can you apply what you have learned to other areas of study?  

    Center for Development and Learning: Student Self-Evaluation

Relationship to Social Studies Themes

Individual Development and Identity: Lucretia was the beautiful wife of the nobleman Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus. She is the legendary heroine of ancient Rome who was the model of a virtuous wife. Sextus Tarquinius (often known as just Tarquin), the son of the tyrant Etruscan king of Rome, violated her and she committed suicide because of her perceived shame. She exacted an oath of vengeance against the Tarquin family from her father and husband before killing herself. The enraged populace rebelled against the Tarquins and drove them out in 509 B.C.E. The rebellion caused the King of Rome, Sextus Tarquinius, and the rest of their family to leave Rome. When the Tarquins were driven out, the Republic of Rome was founded.

Time, Continuity and Change: Here we can view two versions of Rembrandt's Lucretia, one from 1664 located at the National Gallery of Art, and the other done in 1666, now located at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The rape of Lucretia was very important, because it was due to her circumstance that caused Junius Brutus to found the Republic of Rome. The first version depicts Lucretia just before she takes her life. This second version portrays Lucretia moments after she had plunged the knife into her heart.
    Myth as History
    Medieval Sourcebook
    Ancient Worlds: The Roman World