Why are portraits important?

The portrait can be fascinating because it tells us about the subject. But portraits have always been more than just a record. They have been used to show the power, importance, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning or other qualities of the sitter. Portraits have almost always been flattering, and painters who refused to flatter, such as William Hogarth, tended to have their work rejected.

A notable exception was Francisco Goya, with his seemingly truthful portraits of the Spanish royal family. Portrait photography can be important for many reasons, and those reasons can vary from one individual to another. Portraiture is a genre of painting in which a specific human subject is intended to be depicted. The term "portrait painting" can also describe the painted portrait itself.

Portrait painters may create their works on commission, for public and private individuals, or they may be inspired by admiration or affection for the subject. Portraits often serve as important state and family records, as well as souvenirs. As the practice of portraiture developed in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, several strands emerged. The portrait of saints and their disciples was found on a tombstone on the wall of the Imperial University as a moral code to educate students.

During the 4th century, the sculpted portrait dominated, with a retreat in favour of an idealised symbol of that person's appearance. Ottoman miniatures generally had figures with even less individualised faces than their Persian counterparts, but a genre of small portraits of male members of the Imperial family developed. So why are painted portraits still important today, do we now have a larger or different audience for portraiture, and are the characteristics of authority and authenticity still relevant or true? In the late Middle Ages, in the 15th century, early Netherlandish painting was key to the development of individualised portraiture. Traditionally, portraits were commissioned by the sitters themselves, who were usually wealthy and high-ranking individuals.

Group portraits were produced in large numbers during the Baroque period, especially in the Netherlands. Self-portraits are usually executed with the aid of a mirror, and the end result is a mirror-image portrait, a reversal of what happens in a normal portrait when the model and the artist face each other. Impressionist portraits, known for their glossy surfaces and rich touches of paint, are often disarmingly intimate and engaging. He commissioned the Portrait of the Emperors of the Succession, which contains portraits of 13 emperors from previous dynasties in chronological order.

In religious paintings, portraits of the donors began to appear as presents or to participate in the principal sacred scenes shown, and in the more private images of the court the subjects even appeared as significant figures, such as the Virgin Mary. A well-executed portrait was expected to show the inner essence of the subject (from the artist's point of view) or a flattering representation, not just a literal likeness. Most portrait photographers do not rely on the flash built into the camera and instead use natural light or studio lights and reflectors.

Roger Deonarian
Roger Deonarian

Evil analyst. General bacon scholar. . Total zombie fan. Friendly food advocate. Evil pop culture enthusiast.

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