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Peale's Portrait of George Washington

"Here, painted at the height of the War for Independence, is the man on whom the whole cause seemed to depend, thought of sometimes as a weak soldier, sometimes as a slab of incommunicable granite, but increasingly as the war continued, as a man of extraordinary physical and moral strength. It is without doubt the first state portrait of the new America, and a most impressive image in its own right." In this in-depth analysis of Charles Willson Peale's famous portrait of George Washington, discover the symbolism inherent in the setting, pose, and props of the painting, and what they can tell us about Washington's status as an American legend. Examine the painting in a web interactive and learn more about the man and the portrait in this article from the Colonial Williamsburg Journal.

Primary Source of the Month

Portrait of Two Children
Portrait of Two Children
Attributed to Joseph Badger, circa 1760
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Portraits don't just show the viewer what a person looked like; they also show that person's wealth, status, interest, and personality traits. Artists show these elements through the setting, pose, clothing, accessories, props, and symbols they include in the portraits. The painting of two children is attributed to Boston artist Joseph Badger. He painted several portraits of children during his career, and some clothing items, the squirrel, and the coral toy are included in multiple portraits.

Research Rescue Squad EFT
The Next Electronic Field Trip
is Research Rescue Squad
January 17, 2013

Teaching News

Introducing The Storymatic, Colonial Williamsburg Edition!

The Storymatic, Colonial Williamsburg Edition

What is The Storymatic? It's a writing prompt, teaching tool, and great way to encourage divergent thinking among your students. Pick a few of the history-themed cards and watch a story take shape before your eyes.

What are the basics of The Storymatic? Draw two gold cards and use the information to create a chracter. Then draw a blue card, and let the information on the card lead you into a story. How you tell it is up to you. Write it, draw it, act it, sing it!

The Colonial Williamsburg Edition of the Storymatic is

  • Correlated to state standards and Common Core
  • Terrific for writing
  • Excellent for art
  • Active storytelling
  • Ideal for classrooms
  • Perfect for field trips—no batteries required!
  • Creative
  • Fun!

Six gazillion history-themed stories in one little box. Which one will you tell?

June Podcasts

Check out our latest vodcast, a behind-the-scenes look at the Painters and Paintings in the Early American South exhibit coming to the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in March!

The Idea of America
The Idea of America
A digital American history program that inspires and prepares high school students for active citizenship, developed by Colonial Williamsburg and distributed by Pearson Education.

**Learn more in America: The Pocket Guide, a quick yet comprehensive look at our revolutionary framework for understanding and teaching American history.**

Teacher Community

Teaching Strategy: What Can Portraits Tell Us?

A portrait is not like a photograph, in that its goal is not merely to capture a moment as it really was. The goal of a portrait is to convey a message to the audience about the sitter. This lesson incorporates visual literacy skills that encourage students to properly analyze a portrait to uncover these messages and gain insights into the historical period of the portrait. Students will use specific details from "Portrait of Two Children" to learn about the lives of the children. Then, they will use those same analysis skills to examine details in Peale's portrait of George Washington and Ramsay portrait of King George III and compare the two political portraits.

Colonial Williamsburg Teaching Resources for Your Classroom

2012–2013 Teaching Resources Catalog

Colonial Williamsburg offers a variety of quality American history instructional materials, including:

  • The Eye of the Beholder: Looking at Primary Sources Lesson Unit
  • Primary Sources CD-ROMs
  • Buying Respectability: The Consumer Revolution in 18th-Century Virginia Lesson Unit

Check out our specials, including 50% off lesson units!

Kids Zone: History, Games & Fun

Quotation of the Month

"A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, the Testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was."

—Philippe Halsman, American portrait photographer, 1906–1979

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Colonial Williamsburg for Teachers

Colonial Williamsburg CONNECT

2010 Distance Learning Award
21st Century Award
for Best Practices in Distance Learning,
United States Distance Learning Association, 2010

2011 AEP Finalist
Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist 2011
Association of Educational Publishers

The Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip Series is supported in part
by the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund.

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