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History of Portraiture

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Tabitha Eller

on 3 March 2015

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Transcript of History of Portraiture

Middle Ages
20th century
18th century
History of Portraiture
Ancient Egypt
Testaments of portraiture as a genre can be seen as early as Ancient Egyptian wall paintings of gods and pharaohs.
Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greeks also had fascination with portraiture, mostly in its sculpted form, representing both gods and lay people (who through art were elevated to the status of a deity).
Romans followed a similar tradition borrowing motifs from Ancient Egypt and Greece and developing a flair for portrait busts of key power personalities. Ancient Greek and Romans were also the ones who started the tradition of depicting figure-heads on coins.
Medieval Portraiture
Medieval portrait painters, rather than reproducing the exact facial features of their subjects, often identified individuals by depicting their clothing, heraldry, or other items related to them.
Italian Renaissance
Leonardo da Vinci
Mid 20th century
In the mid 20th century pop art developed a fascination for celebrity portraits, with
Andy Warhol
as its master, which has continued to the present day.
"Portraits have been around since the beginning of time as a means to not only describe physical features, but more importantly power and status."
- Fabulous Noble
Nike of Samothrace
, Pythokritos of Lindos.
Parian Marble, c. 200–190 BC. Louvre, Paris.
Portrait bust of man
1st century B.C.;
Republican Roman. Marble.
Master of the Murano Gradual Italian,
Venice, about 1450 - 1460. Tempera and gold on parchment. 6 3/16 x 4 3/4 in.
RENAISSANCE: pivotal point in history for portraiture


- Concentrated on status and the personality of the sitter through the depiction of objects of characterization
ex: a globe for a 'well-traveled' sitter
Lady with an Ermine
(Cecilia Gallerani)
, 1489-90, Oil on wood panel. 54cm x 39cm.
Mona Lisa
1503-1506 (possibly until 1517). Oil on poplar. 77cm x 53cm. Louvre, Paris.

Marie Antoinette à la Rose
, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, 1783.
The Swing,
Jean-Honore' Fragonard. Oil on canvas, 1767.

19th century
Sir Joshua Reynolds
Paris, France
He promoted the "grand style" in painting, which depended on idealization of the imperfect.
The Waldegrave Ladies
Admiral Hood
, 1783.
Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass,
Jacques-Louis David, 1801.
John Singer
Madame X, 1884.
considered the "leading portrait painter" of his generation
19th & 2oth century
characterized by multiplicity of art movements:


- Portraits during these times opened up to include the bourgeoisie and many times to include the immediate circle of artists, as well as nameless models.
Turquoise Marilyn Monroe
Triple Elvis
Michael Jackson,
takes over portraiture by storm, due to the immediacy, developing many different trends.
Mid 20th century
Philip Halsman
Kehinde Wiley
a modern twist on historical portraiture
Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps
, 2005
The Columbus Museum of Art, which hosted an exhibition of his work in 2007, describes his work with the following: "Kehinde Wiley has gained recent acclaim for his heroic portraits which address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture."
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