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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

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price,500 facet,10503*Werke von Bestseller-Künstlern|icon-bestsellers*werke-von-kunstlern-bestseller facet,10503*Oeuvres d’artistes best sellers|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Artworks by best-selling artists|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Obras de los artistas más vendidos|icon-bestsellers*obras-de-los-artistas-mas-vendidos price,501:1000 facet,10500*Young Talents|icon-youngtalents*youngtalents facet,10500*Oeuvres d'artistes émergents|icon-youngtalents*jeunes-talents facet,10500*Werke von aufstrebenden Künstlern|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern facet,10500*Obras de artistas emergentes|icon-youngtalents*obras-de-artistas-emergentes facet,10500*Werke aufstrebender Künstler|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern category,6*Painting*painting category,6*Gemälde*gemalde category,6*Peinture*peinture category,6*Pintura*pintura facet,1629*Abstraite*abstraite facet,1629*abstracto*abstracto facet,1629*abstrakt*abstrakt facet,1629*Abstract*abstract facet,8259*Our recommendations|icon-recommendations*recommendations facet,8259*Nos recommandations|icon-recommendations*recommandations facet,8259*unsere Empfehlungen|icon-recommendations*unsere-empfehlungen facet,8259*Nuestras recomendaciones|icon-recommendations*nuestras-recomendaciones price,1001:5000 facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*moyen facet,10497*Werke berühmter Künstler|icon-masterpieces*werke-beruhmter-kunstler facet,10497*Obras de artistas famosos|icon-masterpieces*obras-de-artistas-famosos facet,10497*Oeuvres d'artistes célèbres|icon-masterpieces*artistes-celebres facet,10497*Artworks by famous artists|icon-masterpieces*masterpieces facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*grand facet,1635*Street art*street-art facet,1635*Straßenkunst*street-art facet,1635*arte callejero*arte-callejero category,5*Sculpture*sculpture category,5*Skulptur*skulptur category,5*Escultura*escultura category,9*Photography*photography category,9*Photographie*photographie category,9*Fotografía*fotografia category,9*Fotografie*fotografie facet,1686*Pop Art*pop-art facet,1686*Pop-Art*pop-art facet,1686*Arte pop*arte-pop facet,1671*Nature*nature facet,1671*Natur*natur facet,1671*Naturaleza*naturaleza facet,1644*Portrait*portrait facet,1644*Retrato*retrato facet,1644*Porträt*portrat price,1000:501 facet,1641*Nude*nude facet,1641*Akt*akte facet,1641*Nus*nus facet,1641*desnudos*desnudos facet,1827*Portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Retrato|portrait*orientation-retrato facet,1827*Portrait|portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Hochformat|portrait*orientation-portrat facet,1827*Retrato*orientation-retrato category,23*Dessin*dessin category,23*Fine Art Drawings*drawing category,23*Zeichnung*zeichnung category,23*Dibujo*dibujo facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*large facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*tres-grand category,15*Edition*edition category,15*Print*print category,15*Druck*editionen category,15*Edición*edicion facet,8301*Oeuvres en promotion|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Special offers|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Special Offers|icon-promotions*vergunstigte-werke facet,8301*Trabajos en promoción|icon-promotions*trabajos-en-promocion facet,1830*Paysage*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Landschaft*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Landscape*orientation-landscape facet,1830*Paysage|landscape*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Landscape|landscape*orientation-landscape facet,1830*Landschaft|landscape*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Paisaje|landscape*orientation-paisaje facet,1674*Everyday life*everyday-life facet,1674*Scène de vie*scene-de-vie facet,1674*Etchleben*etchleben facet,1674*Escena de la vida*escena-de-la-vida facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*medium facet,1680*Tier*tier facet,1680*Animal*animal facet,1680*Animaux*animaux facet,1680*Animales*animales facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)|small*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 20 x 20 inch)|small*petit facet,1668*Black and white*black-and-white facet,1668*Noir et blanc*noir-et-blanc facet,1668*Schwarz und weiß*schwarz-und-weiss facet,1668*Blanco y negro*blanco-y-negro facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*very-large facet,1632*Architecture*architecture facet,1632*Die Architektur*die-architektur facet,1632*Arquitectura*arquitectura price,5001:10000 facet,1650*Paysage urbain*paysage-urbain facet,1650*Städtische Landschaft*stadtische-landschaft facet,1650*Urban Landscape*urban-landscape facet,1650*Paisaje urbano*paisaje-urbano facet,1659*Flore*flore facet,1659*Flora*flora facet,1659*Floral*floral facet,1659*Flores*flores price,50001 price,10001:25000 facet,1692*Géométrique*geometrique facet,1692*Geometric*geometric facet,1692*Geometrisch*geometrisch facet,1692*Geometría*geometria facet,12*noir|050002*noir facet,12*Black|050002*black facet,12*schwarz|050002*schwarz facet,12*negro|050002*negro facet,42*Rouge|FC2912*rouge facet,42*Red|FC2912*red facet,42*rot|FC2912*rot facet,42*Rojo|FC2912*rojo facet,1656*Graphic*graphic facet,1656*Graphique*graphique facet,1656*Gráfico*grafico facet,1656*Grafik*grafik facet,108*Öl*ol facet,108*huile*huile facet,108*oil*oil facet,108*al oleo*al-oleo facet,126*acrylique*acrylique facet,126*Acryl-*acryl facet,126*acrylic*acrylic facet,126*acrílico*acrilico price,25001:50000
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Our recommendations Jef Aérosol, Children blue, Painting

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Gor Avetisyan, The Joy of Life I, Painting

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Jazzu, Retour à la Lumière, Painting

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Jérôme Lagarrigue, Distant Relative #3, Painting

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Distant Relative #3, 2021
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Our recommendations Ivan Tzonev, Tête D, Painting

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Laurent Anastay-Ponsolle, Constance - Les Mains, Painting

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Our recommendations Peter Klasen, M.50, Painting

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Li Baoxun, Woman, Painting

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Nef, Above, Painting

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Jo Di Bona, Pop corn II, Painting

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Anthony Ferrero (Wear One), Transparence, Painting

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Marcela Zemanova, La danse des cygnes, Painting

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La danse des cygnes, 2021
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Thierry Carrier, Code 2104, Painting

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97 x 130 x 3 cm
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Yoann Bonneville (YBA), New hope XIII, Painting

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90 x 90 x 3 cm
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Cécile Veilhan, Kimono, Painting

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Our recommendations Philippe Pasqua, Portrait, Painting

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Our recommendations Jana & JS, It's a Dreamers World, Painting

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144 x 88 x 4 cm
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Nolwenn Samson, Say hello to the master, Painting

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Say hello to the master, 2020
97 x 130 x 5 cm
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Mario Henrique, Somnium No. 1, Series XI, Painting

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Somnium No. 1, Series XI, 2021
150 x 120 x 4 cm
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Zena Blackwell, Mother in Law's Tongue, Painting

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Mother in Law's Tongue, 2021
30 x 30 x 2 cm
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Patricia Simsa, Le bracelet, Painting

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65 x 50 x 5 cm
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Alexander Daniloff, Il soffio di novembre, Painting

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Il soffio di novembre, 2021
41 x 30 x 0.3 cm
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Stéphane Gisclard, Tower bridge, Painting

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Tower bridge, 2021
116 x 89 x 2.5 cm
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Our recommendations Marion Chesnais, La palmeraie, Painting

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Dimitri Jelezky, Dream 9 (retrofuturism series), Painting

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Dream 9 (retrofuturism series), 2021
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Our recommendations Miss Tic, La Vie Est Porcelaine, Painting

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Pascal Marlin, Volupté en rose, Painting

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Volupté en rose, 2021
55 x 43 x 0.3 cm
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Katarzyna Szydlowska, A glass, Painting

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46 x 38 cm
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Le Closier, Fly me to The Moon, Painting

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Fly me to The Moon, 2021
76 x 76 x 2 cm
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Carlos Tárdez, Mosca, Painting

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Mosca, 2021
40 x 40 x 2.5 cm
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Claude Picart, Rupture I, Painting

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65 x 65 x 2 cm
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Lou Andréas Salomé Tauss, Une jeune fille à la marinière, Painting

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Une jeune fille à la marinière, 2007
61 x 50 x 1.9 cm
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Janusz Orzechowski, Back to the Future IV, Painting

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Back to the Future IV, 2021
80 x 110 x 2.5 cm
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Vladimir Kolosov, Bubble blowers, Painting

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Bubble blowers, 2017
91.4 x 76.2 x 3.2 cm
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Mathilde Polidori, Night Anxiety, Painting

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Night Anxiety, 2021
100 x 66 cm
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L'Amitié, 2021
46 x 38 x 2.5 cm
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Marc Prat, Meditacion P X, Painting

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Meditacion P X, 2019
11 x 11 x 0.1 cm
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Klaudie Svrckova, Listening To Love, Painting

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Listening To Love, 2021
60 x 60 x 2 cm
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Irene Mahon, Derrière le voile, Painting

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Derrière le voile, 2021
46 x 38 x 2 cm
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Our recommendations Alice de Miramon, Les hauts et les bas, Painting

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Les hauts et les bas, 2017
70 x 35 cm
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Claudia Ebbing, Girl in nature, Painting

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Girl in nature, 2019
40 x 30 x 2.5 cm
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Eric Doisy, My bicycle, Painting

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My bicycle, 2021
116 x 81 x 2 cm
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Lucien-Philippe Moretti, Fillette aux boucles rousse, Painting

Lucien-Philippe Moretti

Fillette aux boucles rousse, 1983
27 x 22 x 2 cm
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Mohammad Ariyaei, Le monde parallèle des Jins, Painting

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Le monde parallèle des Jins, 2021
70 x 50 x 5 cm
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Cressanne, Ecoute l'air, Painting

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Ecoute l'air, 2021
20 x 20 x 0.5 cm
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Irina Yakovleva, Moths, Painting

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Moths, 2020
48 x 39 cm
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Régis Rizzo, Brisage de visage #16, Painting

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Brisage de visage #16, 2021
27 x 22 x 3 cm
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Florian Eymann, Portrait, Painting

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Portrait, 2021
40 x 40 x 3 cm
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Idris Habib, Nilah, Painting

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Nilah, 2021
120 x 80 x 3 cm
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Susana Mata, Blue inside, Painting

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Blue inside, 2020
87 x 116 x 1 cm
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Our recommendations Tiemar Tegene, When they see us, Painting

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When they see us, 2021
65 x 53 x 2 cm
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Gary John, Parisian Queen, Painting

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Parisian Queen, 2020
35.6 x 30.5 cm
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