• $ (USD)
  • Need some help

Portrait Painting

Portraiture is one of the most important subjects in painting. The discipline has changed significantly over time and has a fascinating history.

In antiquity, portraits were exclusively reserved for gods and the most influential people in society. Paintings and statues representing the bodies of the deceased were erected to decorate tombs in Egypt. They weren’t realistic but rather had a very standardised way of representing each part of the body.

In contrast to the Egyptians, painters and sculptors in Greece, who had a more in depth knowledge of the human anatomy, were more concerned about realism. Many paintings from this period were done on vases and depicted gods and mythological scenes.

In the Middle Ages, most portraits were commissioned and featuring the most important people of the time; they were painted into religious scenes to emphasise their piety and faith, along with their social status. Once these works of art had been painted, they were often donated to churches and monasteries.

The Renaissance marked a renewal for the arts and portraiture was no exception. At the beginning of this period, artists were unconcerned about lifelike, realistic work. Sitters or the subjects represented were identifiable through the use of symbolic objects and the inclusion of their name.

Giotto revolutionised portraiture by imitating sculpture. He began to paint shadows, the subjects’ expressions, effects of depth and began to use foreshortening. His knowledge soon began to spread.

Brunelleschi then introduced the idea of perspective in architecture, a concept which Masaccio adapted to painting. Italy became the centre of portraiture and the most important Italian families (including the Médici family) commissioned artwork by the best painters. Competition between these painters led them to innovate and led them to produce some of the greatest artworks in history. The most famous is undoubtedly the Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci.

In Northern Europe during the sixteenth century, Flemish art was restricted by iconoclasm during “the reformation”, a period during the depiction of religious figures was banned. Artists turned to courtly art which was particularly popular during the following centuries. A century earlier, Flemish art had marked a turning point with Jan Van Eyck, the inventor of oil painting (the preferred painting technique of all Renaissance painters) and master of detailed realism, who influenced an entire generation of Flemish painters.

Over the following centuries, portraiture continued to be an art form for the elite of society, but painters grew increasingly concerned about depicting realistic figures and communicating the sitter’s inner world and emotions. The 20th century saw a growing trend: subjects were not painted to look beautiful (sometimes to their great dismay).

At the end of the 19th century, impressionist painters became less reliant on sculpted models and sculpture’s influence. They left their studios and painted portraits outside, “en plein air”. They captured the light as they saw it and painted groups of people together rather than in in several stages.

Modern and contemporary art of the 20th century saw anything go when it came to portraits. Artists like Gustave Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin and Lucien Freud turned traditional techniques and codified rules on their heads and developed their own unique styles. Discover portraits by Philippe Pasqua, Robert Combas, Guangyu Dai and Erró on Artsper.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Paintings

Read more

Saved search

Your search is accessible from the favorites tab > My favorite searches

Unsaved search

A problem occurred

Martine Fauve Dechavanne, Mode, Painting

Martine Fauve Dechavanne

Mode, 2021
92 x 60 x 2 cm
Painting

$969

Jazzu, Pink Life, Painting

Jazzu

Pink Life, 2020
41 x 33 x 3 cm
Painting

$1,187

Etienne Quesnay, Couverte de fleurs, Painting

Etienne Quesnay

Couverte de fleurs, 2021
31 x 23 cm
Painting

$424

Béatrice Terra, A qui ai-je l'honneur ?, Painting

Béatrice Terra

A qui ai-je l'honneur ?, 2021
100 x 81 x 3 cm
Painting

$2,787

Jana & JS, I Get Lost Sometimes, Painting

Jana & JS

I Get Lost Sometimes, 2021
25 x 25 x 2 cm
Painting

$1,212

Joanna Glazer, Blue Bird of Paradise, Painting

Joanna Glazer

Blue Bird of Paradise, 2015
80 x 60 x 1 cm
Painting

$240 $479

Hom Nguyen, Woman, Painting

Hom Nguyen

Woman, 2021
150 x 150 x 4 cm
Painting

15,000 - $ 25,000

Florence Dussuyer, Cendrillon, Painting

Florence Dussuyer

Cendrillon, 2020
150 x 150 x 4 cm
Painting

$10,904

Henry Meylan, Peintre à son chevalet peignant femme et enfant, Painting

Henry Meylan

Peintre à son chevalet peignant femme et enfant, 1949
55 x 46 x 2 cm
Painting

$969

Nef, Silence, Painting

Nef

Silence, 2021
29.7 x 42 cm
Painting

$363

Marta Zawadzka, In the garden, Painting

Marta Zawadzka

In the garden, 2021
90 x 90 x 2 cm
Painting

$2,302

Béatrice Alice Lafitte-Irigaray, Angel BA, Painting

Béatrice Alice Lafitte-Irigaray

Angel BA, 2021
92 x 62 cm
Painting

$1,939

Chris Ellis (Daze), Tunnel, Painting

Chris Ellis (Daze)

Tunnel, 2011
40.6 x 50.8 cm
Painting

$5,816

Istraille, Pelshery, Painting

Istraille

Pelshery, 2021
80 x 60 cm
Painting

$1,187

Noir Artist, Contemplation - Paz, Painting

Noir Artist

Contemplation - Paz, 2021
150 x 100 x 5 cm
Painting

$6,664

Cécile Desserle, Turbulence, Painting

Cécile Desserle

Turbulence, 2021
116 x 89 x 3 cm
Painting

$4,119

E. Rosselli, La femme au turban jaune, Painting

E. Rosselli

La femme au turban jaune, 1947
56.5 x 46.5 x 2 cm
Painting

$845

Alexander Daniloff, Pic nic, Painting

Alexander Daniloff

Pic nic, 2006
32 x 60 x 0.3 cm
Painting

$567 $630

Shake, Nobody Likes Me (Banksy Tribute), Painting

Shake

Nobody Likes Me (Banksy Tribute), 2021
80 x 60 x 4 cm
Painting

$788

Alea Pinar Du Pre, Maria, Painting

Alea Pinar Du Pre

Maria, 2021
59 x 46 x 3 cm
Painting

$3,029

Séverine Solcourt, Go Smiley, Painting

Séverine Solcourt

Go Smiley, 2021
140 x 140 x 2 cm
Painting

$4,725

Antoine Stevens, Sofia, Painting

Antoine Stevens

Sofia, 2021
70 x 50 x 5 cm
Painting

$4,725

Linda Bachammar Clerget, Ataraxia, Painting

Linda Bachammar Clerget

Ataraxia, 2021
76 x 56 x 0.1 cm
Painting

$1,696

JM Robert, Sans titre, Painting

JM Robert

Sans titre, 2021
50 x 40 x 4 cm
Painting

$2,181

Pinto, 825, Painting

Pinto

825, 2021
120 x 120 x 4 cm
Painting

$1,925

Zena Blackwell, Untitled, Painting

Zena Blackwell

Untitled, 2021
25.4 x 25.4 x 2 cm
Painting

$780

Jan Wysocky, Rain, Painting

Jan Wysocky

Rain, 2021
80 x 80 x 2 cm
Painting

$1,454

Lucio Forte, Untitled 51, Painting

Lucio Forte

Untitled 51, 2021
31 x 23 x 0.1 cm
Painting

$188

Voxx Romana, Akashic Crown, Painting

Voxx Romana

Akashic Crown, 2019
63 x 48.5 x 1 cm
Painting

$545

Renjie Gao, Portrait No.3, Painting

Renjie Gao

Portrait No.3, 2021
60 x 50 x 4 cm
Painting

$1,212

Vitaliy Lishko, Portrait / Painting Original / Square painting, Painting

Vitaliy Lishko

Portrait / Painting Original / Square painting, 2021
120 x 120 x 2 cm
Painting

$2,326 $3,877

Lorena Fonsato, La sirena Lorelei, Painting

Lorena Fonsato

La sirena Lorelei, 2021
40 x 40 x 2 cm
Painting

$351

Yoann Bonneville (YBA), Sunset 3, Painting

Yoann Bonneville (YBA)

Sunset 3, 2021
100 x 81 x 3 cm
Painting

$1,817

Marc Prat, Shade mask, Painting

Marc Prat

Shade mask, 2019
20 x 20 x 5 cm
Painting

$606

Serghei Ghetiu, Little ballerinas meet the summer bird, Painting

Serghei Ghetiu

Little ballerinas meet the summer bird, 2021
85 x 60 x 2 cm
Painting

$1,151

Joyce Fournier, Missing you, Painting

Joyce Fournier

Missing you, 2011
35.6 x 27.9 x 2.5 cm
Painting

$825

Bastien Ducourtioux, Space oddity, Painting

Bastien Ducourtioux

Space oddity, 2020
80 x 60 x 2 cm
Painting

$957

Yaroslava Neli Shai, Geisha, Painting

Yaroslava Neli Shai

Geisha, 2021
120 x 90 x 3 cm
Painting

$3,392

Sid'Ali Hams, La pensée de Zorha 1, Painting

Sid'Ali Hams

La pensée de Zorha 1, 2021
65 x 55 x 0.1 cm
Painting

$1,454

Théo Le Franc, S16, Painting

Théo Le Franc

S16, 2021
30 x 30 x 2.5 cm
Painting

$424

Monsieur Mollotov, Dog, Painting

Monsieur Mollotov

Dog, 2021
116 x 89 x 3 cm
Painting

$3,877

Guy Ghazanchyan, #12 From Witness of 2020 Series, Painting

Guy Ghazanchyan

#12 From Witness of 2020 Series, 2021
65 x 50 x 2 cm
Painting

$1,442 $1,696

Rem Pirumov, Dream Woman I, Painting

Rem Pirumov

Dream Woman I, 2021
55 x 30 x 2 cm
Painting

$479

Gregory Malphurs, Bored of Directors 3, Painting

Gregory Malphurs

Bored of Directors 3, 2021
22.9 x 15.2 cm
Painting

$1,000

Linda Vachon, Gris-bleu, Painting

Linda Vachon

Gris-bleu, 2021
101.6 x 76.2 x 2.5 cm
Painting

$1,454

Laurent Godard, Portrait d'anonyme en dégoulinant, Painting

Laurent Godard

Portrait d'anonyme en dégoulinant, 2021
30 x 30 x 3 cm
Painting

$1,333

Sébastien Allart, Maiënn, Painting

Sébastien Allart

Maiënn, 2021
130 x 97 x 4 cm
Painting

$3,635

Robert Lebsack, So they say, Painting

Robert Lebsack

So they say, 2021
27.9 x 43.2 cm
Painting

$280

Caitlin Cartwright, Migration, Painting

Caitlin Cartwright

Migration, 2021
61 x 45.7 x 5.1 cm
Painting

$1,900

Sébastien Desnos (s3b Desnos), Intuitive, Painting

Sébastien Desnos (s3b Desnos)

Intuitive, 2021
80 x 80 x 2 cm
Painting

$989

Zwy Milshtein, Sans titre, Painting

Zwy Milshtein

Sans titre, 2005
20 x 25 x 0.1 cm
Painting

$969

Gerdine Duijens, Anna, Painting

Gerdine Duijens

Anna, 2021
40.6 x 40.6 cm
Painting

$980

Karel Appel, Sans Titre, Painting

Karel Appel

Sans Titre, 1973
76 x 58 x 3 cm
Painting

$66,638

Izabela Lewkowicz, Portrait opiacé f006, Painting

Izabela Lewkowicz

Portrait opiacé f006, 2021
110 x 100 x 3 cm
Painting

$1,696

Henriette Barety, Allons cueillir des fleurs, Painting

Henriette Barety

Allons cueillir des fleurs, 1979
38 x 28.5 cm
Painting

$202 $224

Alain Rigollier, The Model (Le Mannequin), Painting

Alain Rigollier

The Model (Le Mannequin), 2021
55 x 46 x 1 cm
Painting

$300 $600

Javier Garló, El Esperador, Painting

Javier Garló

El Esperador, 2021
40 x 40 x 4.5 cm
Painting

$1,090

Benjamin Vitrol Vautier Alvarez, Athena of Liberty, Painting

Benjamin Vitrol Vautier Alvarez

Athena of Liberty, 2021
73 x 50 x 2 cm
Painting

$1,090

James Earley, The Resilient King Of Southampton, Painting

James Earley

The Resilient King Of Southampton, 2021
77 x 52 x 3 cm
Painting

$4,187

Anthony Ferrero (Wear One), Always more..., Painting

Anthony Ferrero (Wear One)

Always more..., 2018
80 x 60 x 1 cm
Painting

$491

François Poulat, Geisha, Painting

François Poulat

Geisha, 2021
120 x 120 x 3 cm
Painting

$8,481

François Bajeot, Marilyn Monroe, Painting

François Bajeot

Marilyn Monroe, 2021
80 x 60 x 2 cm
Painting

$767

Julie Coudret Carrasco, Tony Montana, Painting

Julie Coudret Carrasco

Tony Montana, 2021
80 x 100 x 2 cm
Painting

$969

Nicolas Osborn, Impressions Van Gogh, Painting

Nicolas Osborn

Impressions Van Gogh, 2021
100 x 80 x 2 cm
Painting

$727

Not feeling very inspired? Get your personalised selection today