Charioteer of Delphi Lesson Plan

An Introduction to Public Art in Philadelphia for 4th/5th Grade

TOPIC: An Introduction to Public Art in Philadelphia for 4th/5th Grade


1. Goals: To introduce students to one example of public art in Philadelphia and the idea that art can inspire.

2. Objectives:
A. Students will have a basic historical understanding of the Charioteer of Delphi.
B. Students will have a basic understanding of what the sculpture aims to represent and how.
C. Students will explore subjects that inspire them and use the statue as a catalyst for inspiration.


Begin by having the class watch the Association for Public Art’s online audio slideshow for Charioteer of Delphi:


The Charioteer of Delphi is a bronze sculpture cast from the original sculpture created in Greece in the 5th Century B.C. The City of Philadelphia received this sculpture as a gift from the Greek government to commemorate our Bicentennial in 1976.

The Charioteer of Delphi was made using the “lost wax” casting process. “Lost wax” casting is an ancient method used to create metal sculpture, jewelry, and objects. It begins with a completely rendered model in wax. This model is then surrounded with a ceramic shell, or in ancient times buried in sand, and heated. This causes the wax to run out of the shell, leaving an empty void in the shape of the original model. Hot, liquid metal can then be poured into this void, and the shell broken off to create a perfect replica of the original wax model.

The Charioteer of Delphi depicts a young Greek athlete. Because this work attempts to represent an image of something from life (it is not abstract), we call it a figurative work.


1. Have the class look at the sculpture/image (2 mins). Begin by encouraging general conversation, for example by asking:
• What do you see?
• Who or what is being depicted?

2. If the class is familiar with the elements of design, discuss how these elements are being used in the sculpture (5 mins):
• What is the form being depicted? (One of a young charioteer)

3. If the class has previously looked at other public works, compare the goals of the sculptures and formal techniques utilized to achieve these goals (3 mins). This lesson can be paired with the lesson for Jesus Breaking Bread, another figurative bronze sculpture.

4. Finally, have your students brainstorm what image inspires them like the charioteer inspired the Greeks. What image do they think would be a good representation for their community and why? Have students pick an image and write about one of the visual techniques it would utilize (5 mins). Have students share their notes (2 mins).


Pick activity A or B

Any dry drawing materials

A. [Must be done in the beginning of the year.] After discussing images that inspire the class, have each student write or draw an image that inspires them. Have your students place their images inside an envelope. They will be able to view it in the future to see if what they picked still inspires them. At the end of the class, have a discussion about how the image makes them feel now. Which images are enduring?

B. After discussing images that inspire the class, have each student write or draw an image that inspires them. Have each student place their images somewhere in the classroom where they can go for inspiration during the year.

VI. CLEANUP (5-10 mins)


Arts and Humanities

9.1.3.A: Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities.
Elements (Visual Arts): color • form/shape • line • space • texture • value

9.1.3.B: Recognize, know, use, and demonstrate a variety of appropriate arts elements and principles to produce, review, and revise original works in the arts.
Elements (Visual Arts): paint • draw • craft • sculpt • print • design for environment, communication, multi-media

9.1.3.C: Recognize and use fundamental vocabulary within each of the arts forms.

9.1.3.I: Identify arts events that take place in schools and in communities.


1. Was the student attentive during video/historical background?

2. Did the student participate in class discussion? Did this participation reflect attentiveness during video? Did this participation reflect application to previous lessons?

3. Did the student complete the activity?

4. Was the student respectful to other students’ opinions and work during the lesson?


1. This lesson can be paired with the lesson Introduction to Public Art

2. This lesson can be paired well with the lesson for Jesus Breaking Bread. Related themes include:
• using figurative images to represent/ inspire a community
• attempts to create universal images
• lost wax casting
• similar formal elements (outstretched arms, stance, lines of sight, etc.)


How Art Made the World – Excerpt from a BBC Documentary about figurative Greek sculpture:

Lost wax casting video the National Sculpture Society about how artists use the lost wax casting technique to make a bronze sculpture: