Interviewer-Interviewee

Traditional Portraits Some of Thomas Sully’s earliest recorded portraits are his now-lost images of members of the Park Theatre in New York in various roles. When Sully had returned in 1810 to Philadelphia from a nine-month trip to England, he announced his artistic ambitions through a series of extraordinary theatrical portraits, arranged by patrons and… Read on

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Jumping into a Portrait

The Fancy or Subject Portraits Thomas Sully kept meticulously detailed records that provide an in-depth understanding of the life of a working artist in nineteenth-century America. Rather than representing sitters in contemporary dress, these portraits present their subjects in imaginative costumes that evoke character types or specific characters from literature or the stage. Although nearly… Read on

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Getting to Know You

The Fancy or Subject Portraits Thomas Sully kept meticulously detailed records that provide an in-depth understanding of the life of a working artist in nineteenth-century America. Rather than representing sitters in contemporary dress, these portraits present their subjects in imaginative costumes that evoke character types or specific characters from literature or the stage. Although nearly… Read on

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Backdrop Building

Create your own architectural setting for George Frederick Cooke in the Role of Richard III (1811–12).  Have students research similar structures built during that time period. Lead a discussion about setting and the significance of architecture. Afterwards have students create their own structures using only masking tape, newspaper, and paper tubes.

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Literature Connection

Look through picture books or read chapters from the books featured in portraits in the exhibition (e.g., Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, MacBeth, Merchant of Venice, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Old Curiosity Shop, Robinson Crusoe). Don’t forget to discuss the book and its correlation to the portraits viewed in the exhibition. Ask students… Read on

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The Great Debate

Historians continue to debate the merits of the decisions and actions taken by President Andrew Jackson during his two terms in office. Living between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, Jackson played a central role in virtually all the controversial issues of his time—Indian removal, economic reform, states’ rights, and slavery. Overshadowed in popular… Read on

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Quotables: Respond and React

After viewing the exhibition with your students, use the quotes below by artists represented in 30 Americans as primary sources for a write-around activity. A write-around is a written discussion between four students. Divide your students into groups of four, and project one of the quotes and a work of art by the artist in… Read on

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Artwork Ambassador

To help students get to know some of the artists and empower them to explore the exhibition, this activity has students serve as “ambassadors,” or representatives, for a work of their choosing in 30 Americans, for when the class visits the exhibition. Start with a conversation about what it means to be an ambassador, or… Read on

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Art Debate: Art vs. Advertising

Can art be advertising? Can advertising be art? What is the relationship between the two? As color photography grew in popularity, artists themselves were thinking about this very question, as seen in Color Rush: 75 Years of Color Photography in America. They produced photographs for magazines, or were paid by companies like Kodak to take… Read on

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