Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2), Upper Elementary (3–5), Middle School (6–8), High School (9–12)
Subjects: Visual Arts
Time Required: Short Activity
30 minutes
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Activity Overview

Students look at two portraits in the Museum at the Getty Center and think about the techniques an artist uses to tell us about the character of their subject.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• form an interpretation of a person in a portrait.
• write interview questions that will help them learn more about a subject in a portrait.


• Looking at People in Portraits worksheet
• 2 portraits in the Getty colleciton. We suggest Portrait of John Talbot by Pompeo Batoni and Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven by Jean-Etiénne Liotard

Activity Steps

1. Take students to the upper level of the South Pavilion at the Getty Center. Have them look for two kinds of portrait—one person they would like to meet, and one they would not like to meet.

2. Give each student a copy of the Looking at People in Portraits worksheet and a pencil. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet in writing, or verbally, as a group. The questions prompt them to look closely at the details of the paintings. If students write their answers, have a group discussion about how the artists convey the character of the person they painted.

3. Have students complete the two activities on the back of the sheet. The first activity asks them to sketch, or describe in words, the person they do not want to meet. The second asks them to write questions they would ask the person they want to meet if they could meet them, and then imagine what their answers would be.

John Talbot / Batoni
Pompeo Batoni, Portrait of John Talbot, later 1st Earl Talbot