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Picture-Perfect Portraits

Research Renaissance artist Raphael, then take a closer look at the details of a face to create your own picture-perfect portrait.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Raphael, a Renaissance master born in Urbino, Italy, on April 6, 1483, was known for his exceptional portraiture. His work, following that of Michelangelo and Leonardo daVinci, was perfectly realistic, and in great demand. Raphael's painting The School of Athens adorns the Vatican, and rivals Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel. The School of Athens portrays the great philosophers of the time in flawless and expressive portraits. Raphael is also known for his Madonnas and his Saint George Fighting the Dragon series.
    2. Invite students, working in small groups, to carefully study the portraits created by Raphael during the Renaissance, such as his Maddalena or Bindo Altoviti. Organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to view during this research.
    3. When research is complete, ask students to create a portrait in the manner of Raphael. Each student selects a classmate to be his subject. Look closely at the subject, or a photograph of that person. Notice details: eye color, hair length, eyebrow shape, clothing color and texture. After observing this person, the artist is ready to begin the portrait.
    4. On white paper, use Crayola® Fine Tip Markers to draw a realistic portrait of the subject. Encourage student painters to include every detail seen.
    5. Students cover work areas with recycled newspaper. Paint portraits with Crayola Watercolors, using realistic colors. Dry.
    6. Students share their portraits with classmates, revealing details from research and observation.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    SS: Demonstrate an understanding that people in different times and places view the world differently.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Eyewitness: Renaissance by Alison Cole; The Renaissance (Understanding People in the Past) by Mary Quigley.

    Raphael's The School of Athens portrayed great philosophers of his time. Challenge students to consider painting a group portrait of the great minds of contemporary times. Who would they include? Students brainstorm in small group to determine the great minds to be included in the portrait. Students also investigate the lives of these great minds to find evidence to support including these people in the portrait.

    Students read the story of Saint George Fighting the Dragon. Ask students if they envision the dragon as Raphael painted it, or do they see it differently. Students groups list characteristics of the dragon they visualize. Students sketch their vision of the dragon and paint it using Crayola Watercolor Pencils. Decorate it further with Crayola Glitter Glue.

    Students work in teams of two or small groups to research portraits created by other painters. Compare the painting styles, subjects and media used by the artists. How are paintings and photographs different? How are they similar?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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