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Museum Home Education Search Lesson Plans All Curricula Language through Art: An ESL Enrichment Curriculum Tips for Teaching about Portraits
Tips for Teaching about Portraits

Listed below are some general questions that you may ask when looking at any portrait. These questions help us to look carefully and express our opinions about what we see. It is important to let students know that we are used to looking at people and making assessments about them based on what we see. Please remind students that we are simply doing the same when looking at a portrait.

• What can we discover about this person just by looking at his or her portrait?
• What does the facial expression tell us about how the person is feeling at this moment, or what the artist wants to suggest that the person is feeling?
• What can we say about the person's social status, time period, and private likes and dislikes by looking at his or her attire?
• What kind of life do you think this person leads? Does he or she work? If so, as what? Are there any props that give us clues about a profession?
• Does this person seem like someone you would like to meet? Why or why not?
• Who do you think this portrait was made for? Why? Where do you think it was displayed?

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