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Portrait Drawing

Portraiture has existed for many centuries. The Greeks produced portraits for funeral and religious rituals; they aimed to “bring back to life those who have passed away.” In the Roman era, portraits were often reserved for the ruling figures of society; for example, a warrior would have his portrait painted to illustrate his bravery during a battle. In Europe, it is only during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance that Italian and Flemish painters started to practice the art of portraiture.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, painters created works commissioned by wealthy patrons. Painters sketched out preliminary freehand drawings, which were often then approved by the patron, before beginning to work on their oil paint or, later, watercolour. Facial features were sometimes improved to the detriment of realism, although some painters were known for their ability to reproduce their models’ expressions. Some artists worked in great detail while others focussed more heavily on trying to capture the real personality of their model.

For much of its history, portrait not only told a story but it also conveyed a message of power, promoting a well-controlled image to the wider population and establishing the sitter’s authority through its circulation. For example, Florentine elites would use paintings and drawings as a mean of controlling their image and establishing their authority. Portraits were a way for someone to live on long after their death. Today we find the faces of aristocracies and the European bourgeoisie in many museums, immortalised by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci or Rembrandt.

The results obtained through drawing depended largely on the tools and materials used. Red chalk was very popular (especially at the beginning of the 16th century) to represent the facial features and the warmth of the skin, while charcoal produced harder lines and pastel created a softer, colourful touch. Artists adapted their technique depending on the subject and the emotion they wanted to convey. The commercialisation of pencils in the nineteenth century made it a popular medium for artists and amateurs alike. Pencil art became more popular and the tool was often used for sketching portraits.

One thing is certain; capturing facial expressions is a demanding art form and the art of portraiture requires a lot of practice. Drawing a face down to its finest details may take hours to obtain the desired result: a protruding jaw, the shape of a skull, thick brows, smiling eyes, dilated pupils… Even more difficult, are children’s portraits? It can be difficult to get them to stay still for long. The artist has to be skilled enough to immortalise these men, women and children full of life.

Gradually, sketched portraits became less and less realistic but increasingly daring and experimental in terms of colour. On Artsper, discover drawings by Jean Cocteau, Julien Calot, Alice de Miramon, Philippe Pasqua, Sabine Danzé, Bahareh Navabi and Stéphanie Stindel.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Drawings

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Louis Rheiner, Portrait de l'actrice Eleonora Duse, Fine Art Drawings

Louis Rheiner

Portrait de l'actrice Eleonora Duse, 1922
55 x 46.5 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€637

Enaer, A la ligne 1, Fine Art Drawings

Enaer

A la ligne 1, 2021
76 x 56 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€650

Elia Pagliarino, Cinabre #3, Fine Art Drawings

Elia Pagliarino

Cinabre #3, 2020
72 x 52 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€750

Marguerite Wibaux, Prudence, Fine Art Drawings

Marguerite Wibaux

Prudence, 2021
40 x 30 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€350

Pascal Marlin, Jungle men, Fine Art Drawings

Pascal Marlin

Jungle men, 2021
32 x 24 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€350

Patsy McArthur, Feel it, Fine Art Drawings

Patsy McArthur

Feel it, 2021
60 x 76 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,914

Henriette Barety, Dorée comme un biscuit, Fine Art Drawings

Henriette Barety

Dorée comme un biscuit, 1975
30 x 40 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€400

Menachem Gueffen, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Menachem Gueffen

Sans titre, 1992
42 x 29 x 5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€290

Anna Stella Zucconi, 22 - (recto verso), Fine Art Drawings

Anna Stella Zucconi

22 - (recto verso), 2019
100 x 70 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€2,000

Didier Merceret, Lilith, Fine Art Drawings

Didier Merceret

Lilith, 2021
27.5 x 19.2 x 3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€900

Eric Dedebant, Gitane, Fine Art Drawings

Eric Dedebant

Gitane, 2016
37 x 53 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€120

Valérie Hadida, Femme sur galet, Fine Art Drawings

Valérie Hadida

Femme sur galet, 2021
80 x 74 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,900

Pierre Alechinsky, Sans-titre, Fine Art Drawings

Pierre Alechinsky

Sans-titre, 2016
27.5 x 18.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€3,500

Alekos Fassianos, La divine Hellade I, Fine Art Drawings

Alekos Fassianos

La divine Hellade I, 2006
34 x 24.8 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€2,500

Francine Van Hove, Etude pour Roi, Dame, Valet, Fine Art Drawings

Francine Van Hove

Etude pour Roi, Dame, Valet, 2008
50 x 52 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,600

Raphaël Federici (ParisSketchCulture), Dessin, Fine Art Drawings

Raphaël Federici (ParisSketchCulture)

Dessin, 2019
37 x 27 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€380

Alice de Miramon, La cantatrice, Fine Art Drawings

Alice de Miramon

La cantatrice, 2021
30 x 22 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€750

Our recommendations Gabrielle Rul, Les gens de passage, Fine Art Drawings

Gabrielle Rul

Les gens de passage, 2021
23 x 31 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€300

Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Etude pour Artaud, Fine Art Drawings

Ernest Pignon-Ernest

Etude pour Artaud, 2000
17 x 12 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€6,000

Sébastien Mérieau, Vieillesse, Fine Art Drawings

Sébastien Mérieau

Vieillesse, 2018
22 x 16 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€50

Hildegarde Handsaeme, Gracieuseté, Fine Art Drawings

Hildegarde Handsaeme

Gracieuseté, 2018
76 x 55 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€380

Marika Gysbers, Liberty in progress, Fine Art Drawings

Marika Gysbers

Liberty in progress, 2020
40 x 30 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€940

Teresa Riba, Sentint l'aire, Fine Art Drawings

Teresa Riba

Sentint l'aire, 2016
130 x 100 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,800

Nef, Melancolia, Fine Art Drawings

Nef

Melancolia, 2019
18 x 13 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€110

Mel Ramos, Pucci Pants, Fine Art Drawings

Mel Ramos

Pucci Pants, 2015
22 x 19 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€3,889

Jolanta Johnsson, Together, Fine Art Drawings

Jolanta Johnsson

Together, 1997
42 x 29 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€400

Rudyard Heaton, Sans titre 14 (DED359712), Fine Art Drawings

Rudyard Heaton

Sans titre 14 (DED359712), 2018
30 x 40 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€240

Robert Combas, Les yeux fermier !, Fine Art Drawings

Robert Combas

Les yeux fermier !, 2020
46 x 30 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€14,900

Sergio Moscona, Arbol genial - Logico, Fine Art Drawings

Sergio Moscona

Arbol genial - Logico, 2016
56 x 38 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€3,000

Sandra Chevrier, Untitled 14, Fine Art Drawings

Sandra Chevrier

Untitled 14, 2018
60 x 48 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€5,200

Arancha Tejedor, Personnages en mouvement 2, Fine Art Drawings

Arancha Tejedor

Personnages en mouvement 2, 2019
40 x 30 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€160

Our recommendations Jacek Swigulski, Muse V, Fine Art Drawings

Jacek Swigulski

Muse V, 2011
100 x 70 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€900

Katsuko Kuroya, Untitled (DEC355458), Fine Art Drawings

Katsuko Kuroya

Untitled (DEC355458), 2017
30 x 30 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€160

Pablo Picasso, Profil d'homme (recto); Deux hommes de profil (verso), Fine Art Drawings

Pablo Picasso

Profil d'homme (recto); Deux hommes de profil (verso), 1900
28.6 x 22.9 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€108,025

Henri Fehr, Portrait de femme, Fine Art Drawings

Henri Fehr

Portrait de femme, 1902
27 x 20 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€356

Paulina Maksjan, Magic, Fine Art Drawings

Paulina Maksjan

Magic, 2018
100 x 69 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€600

Ewa Kutylak, The King and the Queen, Fine Art Drawings

Ewa Kutylak

The King and the Queen, 2017
19 x 19 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€350

Jan Sumiga, The girl with matches, Fine Art Drawings

Jan Sumiga

The girl with matches, 1996
24 x 18 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€700

Zena Blackwell, A Blue One (study), Fine Art Drawings

Zena Blackwell

A Blue One (study), 2021
21 x 14.2 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€191

Adam Niemczyc, Letter to Hieronymus Bosch, Fine Art Drawings

Adam Niemczyc

Letter to Hieronymus Bosch, 1982
32.5 x 40.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,400

Leszek Zegalski, Nude, Fine Art Drawings

Leszek Zegalski

Nude, 2017
70 x 50 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,300

Kashink, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Kashink

Sans titre, 2019
57 x 35 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€600

Stéphane Gisclard, Belle de dos, Fine Art Drawings

Stéphane Gisclard

Belle de dos, 2017
65 x 50 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€2,600

Olivier Massebeuf, Harvest, Fine Art Drawings

Olivier Massebeuf

Harvest, 2011
36 x 36 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€280

Igor Bodnar, Pritza iro Wiru, Fine Art Drawings

Igor Bodnar

Pritza iro Wiru, 1990
60 x 50 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€450

Christophe Faso, La dernière séance, Fine Art Drawings

Christophe Faso

La dernière séance, 2014
65 x 50 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€671

Gouzy, Big Horns, Fine Art Drawings

Gouzy

Big Horns, 2016
39 x 29 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€550

François Bard, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

François Bard

Sans titre, 2009
74 x 104 x 3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€18,000

Karol Drzewiecki, Untitled, Fine Art Drawings

Karol Drzewiecki

Untitled, 2020
21 x 14.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€250

Stephen and Lorna Kirin, Jacob's Ladder, Fine Art Drawings

Stephen and Lorna Kirin

Jacob's Ladder, 2018
58 x 47 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,076

Carmen Selma, L'entrée pour les garçons, Fine Art Drawings

Carmen Selma

L'entrée pour les garçons, 2018
29.5 x 40 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€477

Aleksandra Kalisz, Sketch V, Fine Art Drawings

Aleksandra Kalisz

Sketch V, 2020
27 x 18 x 3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€300

Lajos Szalay, Caresse tempérée, Fine Art Drawings

Lajos Szalay

Caresse tempérée, 1970
31 x 24.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€3,900

Jérôme Bouscarat, L'Hydre de Lerne, Fine Art Drawings

Jérôme Bouscarat

L'Hydre de Lerne, 2019
40 x 30 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€432

Roland Devolder, La rencontre, Fine Art Drawings

Roland Devolder

La rencontre, 2014
29 x 40 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,200

Markus Lüpertz, Vision de Poussin, Fine Art Drawings

Markus Lüpertz

Vision de Poussin, 2012
70 x 94 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€7,650

Alexandre Monteiro (Hopare), Portrait homme, Fine Art Drawings

Alexandre Monteiro (Hopare)

Portrait homme, 2011
50 x 41 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€4,600

Edouard Eugène Vallet, La Mère Fénollan (la Mère marchande), Fine Art Drawings

Edouard Eugène Vallet

La Mère Fénollan (la Mère marchande), 1900
37 x 23 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€918

Kirill Postovit, The Portrait Of Autumn, Fine Art Drawings

Kirill Postovit

The Portrait Of Autumn, 2020
70 x 50 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€200 €399

Guy  Oberson, Œdipe I, Fine Art Drawings

Guy Oberson

Œdipe I, 2019
47.5 x 36 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,000

Emanuele Ravagnani, Self-Portrait #4, Fine Art Drawings

Emanuele Ravagnani

Self-Portrait #4, 2017
44 x 30 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,540

Virginie Remillieux, Faces n°4, Fine Art Drawings

Virginie Remillieux

Faces n°4, 2019
60 x 50 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€550

Kosta Kulundzic, Tropics beauty 3, Fine Art Drawings

Kosta Kulundzic

Tropics beauty 3, 2020
150 x 110 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€4,000

Laurent de Raucourt, Visage masque, Fine Art Drawings

Laurent de Raucourt

Visage masque, 2019
40 x 50 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

€1,200

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