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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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Valérie Hadida, Femme sur galet, Fine Art Drawings

Valérie Hadida

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

$2,349

Camille Hilaire, Le York de Jean-Paul, Fine Art Drawings

Camille Hilaire

Le York de Jean-Paul, 1980
10 x 14 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$371

Mino Maccari, A Gangster, Fine Art Drawings

Mino Maccari

A Gangster, 1970
15.3 x 13.8 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$668

Sergio Barletta, Portrait of Guelfo Bianchini, Fine Art Drawings

Sergio Barletta

Portrait of Guelfo Bianchini, 1959
29 x 32 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$804

Haude Bernabé, Le gouverneur du temps, Fine Art Drawings

Haude Bernabé

Le gouverneur du temps, 2020
40 x 32 x 5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$2,473

Karine Secret, Les Spaghettis, Fine Art Drawings

Karine Secret

Les Spaghettis, 2021
23 x 15.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$309

Henri Fehr, Au café, Fine Art Drawings

Henri Fehr

Au café, 1956
62.5 x 45 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$794

Marguerite Wibaux, Nostalgia, Fine Art Drawings

Marguerite Wibaux

Nostalgia, 2021
40 x 30 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$433

Yanne Kintgen, Poésie 1, Fine Art Drawings

Yanne Kintgen

Poésie 1, 2021
27 x 21 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,280

Geoffroy Pallardy Hocquard, Portrait Féminin IV, Fine Art Drawings

Geoffroy Pallardy Hocquard

Portrait Féminin IV, 2020
122 x 80 x 0.6 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,546

Léon Laurent Galand, Berty Seuron 1ère danseuse, Fine Art Drawings

Léon Laurent Galand

Berty Seuron 1ère danseuse, 1935
57 x 43 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$681

Eveline Weil, La danseuse, Fine Art Drawings

Eveline Weil

La danseuse, 2018
77 x 60 x 2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$2,411

Our recommendations Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Regards, Rimbaud, Etude n° 18, Fine Art Drawings

Ernest Pignon-Ernest

Regards, Rimbaud, Etude n° 18, 1986
32 x 24 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$14,839

Sandra Chevrier, Untitled 14, Fine Art Drawings

Sandra Chevrier

Untitled 14, 2018
60 x 48 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$6,430

Sergio Moscona, Arbol genial - Logico, Fine Art Drawings

Sergio Moscona

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

$3,710

Valerio Adami, Damas, Fine Art Drawings

Valerio Adami

Damas, 1998
95 x 74 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$17,312

Alekos Fassianos, La divine Hellade I, Fine Art Drawings

Alekos Fassianos

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

$3,091

Guy Denning, Parisien history drawing (et Hocquenghem a dit), Fine Art Drawings

Guy Denning

Parisien history drawing (et Hocquenghem a dit), 2018
29 x 39 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$903

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

$297

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

Alexandre Monteiro (Hopare)

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

$5,688

Raphaël Federici (ParisSketchCulture), Dessin, Fine Art Drawings

Raphaël Federici (ParisSketchCulture)

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

$470

Katsuko Kuroya, Untitled (DEC355458), Fine Art Drawings

Katsuko Kuroya

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

$198

tizlu, Saving Audrey, Fine Art Drawings

tizlu

Saving Audrey, 2021
70 x 50 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,113 $1,484

Olivier Massebeuf, Harvest, Fine Art Drawings

Olivier Massebeuf

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

$346

Yves Brayer, La Masque, Fine Art Drawings

Yves Brayer

La Masque, 1943
24 x 18.5 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,063

Chrystèle Saint-Amaux, Saynète 32 - Se Souvenir du temps qui passe, Fine Art Drawings

Chrystèle Saint-Amaux

Saynète 32 - Se Souvenir du temps qui passe, 2016
41 x 61 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$742

François Bard, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

François Bard

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

$22,258

Stéphane Gisclard, Belle de dos, Fine Art Drawings

Stéphane Gisclard

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

$3,215

Anastasia Kurakina, Portrait, Fine Art Drawings

Anastasia Kurakina

Portrait, 2018
24 x 27 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$433

Erte Tirtoff, Miss Tapsy, Fine Art Drawings

Erte Tirtoff

Miss Tapsy, 1940
47.5 x 37 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$4,452

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

$198

Kashink, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Kashink

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

$742

Lajos Szalay, Caresse tempérée, Fine Art Drawings

Lajos Szalay

Caresse tempérée, 1970
31 x 24.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$4,823

Markus Lüpertz, Vision de Poussin, Fine Art Drawings

Markus Lüpertz

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

$9,460

Nef, Melancolia, Fine Art Drawings

Nef

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

$136

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

$534

Kosta Kulundzic, Tropics beauty 3, Fine Art Drawings

Kosta Kulundzic

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

$4,946

Mara, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Mara

Sans titre, 2019
105 x 75.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$618

Marie Laurencin, Models, Fine Art Drawings

Marie Laurencin

Models, 1920
26 x 22 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$23,495

Hubert Yencesse, Portrait of Woman, Fine Art Drawings

Hubert Yencesse

Portrait of Woman, 1951
25 x 19 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$470

Adam Sabhan, Portrait, Fine Art Drawings

Adam Sabhan

Portrait, 2003
100 x 70 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$3,462

Eugene Berman, Costume, Fine Art Drawings

Eugene Berman

Costume, 1950
16.5 x 11.8 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$742

Marcel Gromaire, Untitled, Fine Art Drawings

Marcel Gromaire

Untitled, 1951
40.5 x 49.5 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$8,532

Christophe Faso, La dernière séance, Fine Art Drawings

Christophe Faso

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

$830

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

$125,000

Virginie Remillieux, Faces n°4, Fine Art Drawings

Virginie Remillieux

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

$612 $680

Liu Bolin, Sketch, Fine Art Drawings

Liu Bolin

Sketch, 2019
27 x 37.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$2,720

Madeleine Sellier, Portrait of Woman, Fine Art Drawings

Madeleine Sellier

Portrait of Woman, 1950
24.5 x 17 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$495

Jacques Hirtz, Soldier, Fine Art Drawings

Jacques Hirtz

Soldier, 1950
41 x 29 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$371

Alkis Matheos, Costume for Marinette, Fine Art Drawings

Alkis Matheos

Costume for Marinette, 1950
27 x 21 x 0.3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$247

Laurent de Raucourt, Visage masque, Fine Art Drawings

Laurent de Raucourt

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

$1,484

Theodore van Elsen, Man with Glasses, Fine Art Drawings

Theodore van Elsen

Man with Glasses, 1940
25.7 x 17.2 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$346

Irene Pereyra, Mother and Child, Fine Art Drawings

Irene Pereyra

Mother and Child, 1950
30.5 x 23 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$371

Guelfo Bianchini, Women, Fine Art Drawings

Guelfo Bianchini

Women, 1961
50.5 x 36 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$989

Marika Gysbers, Liberty in progress, Fine Art Drawings

Marika Gysbers

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

$1,162

Jean-Pierre Velly, Portrait of a Child no.4, Fine Art Drawings

Jean-Pierre Velly

Portrait of a Child no.4, 1979
70 x 50 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$6,183

Bernhard Cahn (Bécan), Double Study for the Affiche "La Quinzaine du Sac de Fr", Fine Art Drawings

Bernhard Cahn (Bécan)

Double Study for the Affiche "La Quinzaine du Sac de Fr", 1940
41 x 56 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,051

Francesco Cangiullo, Portrait of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Fine Art Drawings

Francesco Cangiullo

Portrait of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1950
66 x 48 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$9,274

Mohamed Lekleti, Untitled, Fine Art Drawings

Mohamed Lekleti

Untitled, 2015
30 x 30 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$2,473

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

$590

Georges Gobo, Homme Main Levée, Fine Art Drawings

Georges Gobo

Homme Main Levée, 1940
27.9 x 21.9 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$346

Alfred Pichon, Portrait, Fine Art Drawings

Alfred Pichon

Portrait, 1910
27 x 24 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$556

Guy  Oberson, Œdipe I, Fine Art Drawings

Guy Oberson

Œdipe I, 2019
47.5 x 36 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,237

Roland Devolder, La rencontre, Fine Art Drawings

Roland Devolder

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

$1,484

60 Artworks on 2069

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