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Picturing History
Volume 115, Program 22
3/19/2013
Originally aired on 9/21/2004
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How can I help my student understand the principles that motivated the Founding Fathers? Join host Mike Farris as he talks about a fresh approach on today’s Home School Heartbeat.


Explore art history with the Drawing on History high school curriculum! Order a copy at the link below.
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Mike Farris:
Before the advent of photography, portrait artists were employed to record for posterity the great men and women of the age. Portraits were a symbol of status, and itinerant painters, who often painted signs or houses for a living, traveled from town to town, painting both the prominent and the obscure. These artists left a tremendous legacy for today’s history student.

The National Portrait Gallery maintains over 18,000 works of American portraiture. Many are available to view on their website and can serve to complement your study of American history. One resource the gallery website offers is an interactive lesson on the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart. Students of varying ages can easily use the online lesson. For older students, three filters serve to illuminate this work of art. The biographic filter explores Washington and historical events surrounding his life. The artistic filter focuses on the artist—his biography and the techniques used to create the painting. The third filter examines the symbolic elements included in the portrait. For example, placed on the table near Washington’s outstretched hand are copies of the Federalist Papers and the Journals of Congress. You’ll find many similar elements in the portrait that will prompt discussion of important foundational concepts.

Let me encourage you to take advantage of this springboard for learning about our national heritage. I’m Mike Farris.


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Teaching History with Art

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Home School Legal Defense Association

Looking for ways to incorporate art into your history curriculum? Our resource sheet lists a variety of helpful publications, from art prints to curriculum options. Request your free copy today.

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