The painting depicting the naked former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper was sold for 20,000 $ this week. Let's take a closer look at what this work represents.

“The painting shows Stephen Harper naked and lying on a sofa, surrounded by a crowd of officials. Among those present, a woman offers him what looks like a Tim Hortons coffee. The painting was purchased in 2012 for 5,000$ by Danielle Potvin, a resident of Gatineau. ”

Source: The Journal of Montreal

The following activities will allow, among other things, to discover this controversial work and also to learn more about political art.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:

- Discover and analyze a work by artist Margaret Sutherland;
- Understand the sale of a nude portrait of Stephen Harper;
- Identify works that represent political art;
- Observe and analyze the work Olympia by Manet.

Suggested activities

ACTIVITY 1: Harper naked for sale on Kijiji

First, ask the students if they are aware of the existence of a painting depicting the naked former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. What do they know about this work?

Then show them the picture of this painting and as a whole class analyze the different elements illustrated.

Finally, invite the students to complete the following diagram by finding the answers in this Radio-Canada interview.

ACTIVITY 2: The Art of Margaret Sutherland

In this activity, students will learn about Ontario artist Margaret Sutherland.
First, as a whole class visit the website of the artist. Take a look at some pictures of Margaret Sutherland's works.

Finally, have students choose one of the works and analyze it.

Here are some things they will need to analyze:

- The subject;
- Space;
- Colors;
- The light;
- The expression of the character (s);
- The relationship with the spectator;
- Etc.

ACTIVITY 3: Political art

First, as a whole class define what political art is. Search the web or encyclopedias for various definitions.

The following works represent political art. Do the pupils know these works?

- Flesh robe for anorexic albino by artist Jana Sterbak
- The Dinner Party by artist Judy Chicago
- The little napalm girl by photographer Nick Ut Cong Huynh

To learn more about these works, invite students to consult this item from Radio-Canada.

Finally, have students find another political work on the web, note the source, and describe what it represents and the context in which it was created. Student volunteers will be able to present their work to other students.

For further

As a whole class, observe and analyze the original canvas that was parodied by artist Margaret Sutherland in her work Emporor Haute Couture. This is the painting by Édouard Manet named Olympia.

More about the magazine

Edouard Manet
Wikipedia article

Tools to develop the skill "Appreciate" in art
Art Story website

Véronique is a librarian at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières and a trainer in educational technology for future teachers. She also holds a teaching certificate in the social universe at the secondary level and collaborates regularly with the organization L'École branchée.


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