Thomas Sully: Practice Looking

Visit the Collections page on the Museum’s website for high-resolution images. Select 2–3 portraits and use discussion questions similar to what students may encounter on a tour. Without sharing any information about the painting, give students time to look closely at the work of art. Encourage them to explore every area of the image. After studying the image, discuss the following questions:

  1. What do you notice? Using all five of your senses, describe what you see.
  2. What adjectives would you use to describe this image? How would you describe the mood?
  3. What do you think is going on? Where do you think it is taking place? What details in the painting support your answer?
  4. What does this painting make you wonder about? What questions do you have about the work of art?

Working through these questions can be done individually or in small groups. Or engage the entire class in discussion and compile your answers in a list.