Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stuart's (Interactive) Portrait of G. Washington

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has provided an excellent online tool for analyzing Stuart's (1796) famous portrait of the U.S.'s first president. When the portrait is launched, the user can explore the painting through features highlighted as symbolic, biographic, and artistic representations. For example, a symbolic feature of the painting is the clothing Stuart selected for his subject. For this topic of clothing, the online tool provides a revealing look at another portrait from the same time period, that of French King Louis XVI. With a little guidance, the juxtaposition of these two portraits can help students compare and contrast the ideals of two (somewhat) abstract concepts: democracy and monarchy.

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