Key Stage 3 Art

In a time before photography and film, painted portraits of people were often the only way people would be able to recognise others within their social and political circles. Paintings of people would serve multiple purposes, from exhibiting wealth to forming alliances through marriage or political gift giving. Remember that then, as now, likenesses of people were open to adaptations intended to flatter the sitter. No contemporary portrait exists of Richard but there are copies of originals that were made from life.

Here is some information about portrait painting in the 15th century.

This one, now owned by the Society of Antiquaries in London is the earliest portrait we know of, while this one, in the National Portrait Gallery is the best known portrait of the King.

After the discovery of his skeleton,  Richard’s face and head were remodelled from high-definition 3-D scans of his skull. Layers of ‘muscle’ and ‘skin’ were plotted back onto the skull based on average measurements of modern people over a number of years to create a 21st Century representation of the king.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 05: A facial reconstruction of King Richard III is unveiled by the Richard III Society on February 5, 2013 in London, England. After carrying out a series scientific investigations on remains found in a car park in Leicester, the University of Leicester announced yesterday that they were those of King Richard III. King’s Richard III’s remains are to be re-interred at Leicester Cathedrral. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Your Task

Take one of the near contemporary portraits of Richard III and compare it with the facial reconstruction made in 2013. What similarities and differences can you see? Does this, in your opinion, make the painted portraits more or less convincing as likenesses of the king?

Make a drawing or paint a portrait of Richard


as King of England


as he might have looked as a boy aged about fourteen at Middleham Castle training to become a knight.


make your own clay model of Richard’s head based on the University of Dundee’s model.