Portraiture: Elementary

  • Anthony Van Dyck
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Rene Magritte
  • Yvaral

Overview: Students will learn about portraiture and the history of 5 portraits by different artists from different time periods.  They will visually analyze and verbally discuss these works of art and then reflect via a sketch or a written piece.

Age Group: Elementary (Grades 4-5)

State Standards:

Visual Arts

Standard 1: Students perceive and respond to works of art, objects in nature, events, and the environment.  They also use the vocabulary of the visual arts to express their observations.

Standard 3: Students analyze the role and development of the visual arts in past and present cultures throughout the world, noting human diversity as it relates to the visual arts and artists.

Length of Lesson:

One 50-60 minute lesson

Rationale: Viewing 5 portraits by 5 different artists broadens students’ awareness that a work of art reflects the era in which it was made.  It also teaches them that they can draw upon past work to inspire their own creativity.  Seeing the diverse range of artistic styles and interpretations of portraiture teaches them that there is no “right” way to create art and that art is subjective.


Students will be able to:

  • Identify a portrait and cite at least three purposes of a portrait
  • Analyze a portrait in terms of its elements and characteristics
  • State at least 5 aspects that contribute to the depiction of a person’s essence such as facial expression, pose, environment, etc.
  • Relate cultural influences and historical elements that a portrait reveals


  • Several examples of portraits
  • Pencil and paper for reflection


  • Discuss the definition of a portrait and reasons why someone might want to get their portrait done or why an artist might want to make a portrait of a particular person.
    • What is a portrait?
      • A painting, photograph, print, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is often highlighted.
    • Why do artists paint portraits/why do people have portraits done?
      • To display the likeness, personality, or mood of a person
      • To memorialize the rich/powerful
      • For historical documentation
      • To capture the image of a loved one
  • Show the following 5 works:
    • Anthony van Dyck(1599-1641) Cornelius Satchleven, 1641 
      • One of the most important and famous portrait artists of all time
      • Mostly painted aristocracy and artists/acquaintances who were considered somewhat of celebrities at the time
      • Similar to a celebrity photographer today
      • Straightforward, flattering representations
      • Intended to glorify subjects- he elongated their forms and made them appear larger and grander than in real life
    • Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Claude Renoir, Head Lowered, 1904
      • Famous Impressionist artist – means he used soft strokes that blend together and subtle shading to create his art
      • He was not a huge fan of portraiture, but created portraits as a necessary source of income as well as an entry into wealthy circles
      • Subjects are usually people he established a connection/personal relationship with, particularly his friends and family
    • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Dwarf Dancer, c. 1966
      • One of the most famous artists of all time who worked in a broad range of styles
      • Created hundreds of portraits
      • Painted both from memory and from life – most realistic works often from memory and most abstract works often from sittings
      • Often created a portrait of one subject from a variety of emotions/pictorial inspirations – affected by the different aspects of their personalities and his own feelings toward them which constantly evolved
      • Subject selection difficult to follow – some people very close to Picasso never had their portraits done by him while others that he barely knew he depicted
      • Women were his favorite subjects
    • Rene Magritte (1898 – 1967) The Ready-Made Bouquet, c. 1957
      • Belgian Surrealist artist
      • Surrealism: depict ideas buried deep in your minds (subconscious).  Works don’t have to make sense (imaginary/fantastical); this is why many surrealist works look like something from a dream
      • Clever images – challenge how we view the world
      • Places ordinary objects in an unusual context
      • Gives new meaning to familiar things
    • Jean-Pierre Vasarely Yvaral Star (Marilyn Monroe), c. 1990
      • Used computers/math to create art
      • His works are like optical illusions (magic)
      • Was fascinated with ideas of celebrity/popular/famous imagery
      • Mona Lisa, JFK, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln are other famous people that he created portraits of
      • This work exemplifies one of his favorite subjects (Marilyn Monroe)
      • He created many different portraits of Marilyn amongst which this is one example
  • For each work, provide brief background information on the artist, the time period, the artistic style, and the artist’s relationship/approach to portraiture. Continue with questions such as the following:
    • Who do you think the person in this portrait is?
    • What might he/she do for a living?Does anything that the person is wearing or anything in the image give you any clues as to what he/she does?
    • Can you tell where/when the person lived? How?
    • How old do you think he/she is?
    • Based on the subject’s expression/pose, what kind of person do you think that he/she is? What is he/she thinking?
    • Do you think this person posed for his/her portrait? If so what is his/her pose? Does the way he/she is standing, sitting, etc. tell you anything about him/her?
    • What is the person looking at (the viewer? Something else?) How does this make him/her seem?
    • Is the portrait realistic or abstract (the artist was thinking about something real but altered the visual reality of the subject in some way)?
    • How do you think the artist felt about the person in this portrait? Do you think that the artist knew him/her?
    • Do you like this portrait? Why or why not?
  • If time allows, encourage the students to reflect on what they have learned in an art journal.  They can pick a favorite work and discuss why or sketch a quick portrait in the manner of the one of the 5 artists.





Anthony Van DyckCornelius Satchleven
 Pierre-Auguste RenoirClaude Renoir, Head Lowered
 Pablo PicassoDwarf Dancer
 Rene MagritteThe Ready-Made Bouquet
 Yvaral, Star (Marilyn Monroe), c. 1990YvaralStar (Marilyn Monroe)


Raisonne Title

< ?php if (get_field('reference') !="") { ?>

< ?php } ?>

< ?php if (get_field('dimension') != "") { ?>

< ?php } ?>

< ?php if (get_field('edition') != "") { ?>

< ?php } ?>

< ?php if (get_field('series') != "") { ?>

< ?php } ?>

< ?php if (get_field('printer') != "") { ?>

< ?php } ?>

< ?php if (get_field('publisher') != "") { ?>

< ?php } ?>

< ?php if (get_field('style') != "") { ?>

< ?php } ?>

Artist< ?php the_field('artist_name'); ?>

Title:< ?php the_title(); ?>

Reference< ?php the_field('reference');?>

Medium:< ?php the_field('medium'); ?>

Sheet Size< ?php the_field('dimension'); ?>

Edition< ?php the_field('edition'); ?>

Series< ?php the_field('series'); ?>

Printer< ?php the_field('printer'); ?>

Publisher< ?php the_field('publisher'); ?>

Style< ?php the_field('style'); ?>


To inquire about this particular artwork, please fill out the following form:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Shipping Informatoin

Custom Packing and Insured Shipping
Expert custom packaging and insured shipping guarantees the safety of your work and the security of your investment while in transit.
We typically ship using FedEx, as they assume full insurance for door-to-door transit of your artwork. We charge actual shipping and insurance costs, plus the cost of the packing materials. We never charge a handling fee. Feel free to contact us for shipping quotes. Should you opt to use a shipper other than FedEx, we ask that you please notify us prior to shipping. Please note: shipments to California residents are subject to local sales tax.

Masterworks Fine Art Gallery schedules shipping for our clients. Works can be shipped via FedEx Ground (3-5 business days), 3-Day, 2-Day, Standard Overnight or Priority Overnight shipping. Purchases typically ship within 3 days of payment clearance. We ship daily, Monday – Friday. Special delivery arrangements can be made, if needed.


Submit Best Offer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.