“What is a formal portrait,” “If we only had one opportunity to put our image out there in the world, what would we want this image to say about ourselves?” These were the questions NSCD upper school French 3 students explored in a recent assignment. They began by studying portraits of famous historical people such as the one of La Marquise de Pompadour, which resides in the Louvre museum.

The process enabled students to discover how she wanted to be portrayed—not as the commoner she was at birth, and not as a queen that she was not (she was however King Louis XV’s favorite mistress) but as a learned and influential woman. 

The students used similar techniques and modern-day photography to create their own portraits. Then classmates wrote about each other's portraits in French—what they meant and how they controlled their image.

French Teacher Beatrice McKenna came up with the idea when she was awarded an NSCD professional development grant to study at Le Louvre as part of a program to help teachers use art to teach languages. Creating a new project was one of the culminating elements of the program.

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