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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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Jéko, Regard à droite, Fine Art Drawings

Jéko

Regard à droite, 2020
25.6 x 19.7 x 0.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,074

Francine Van Hove, Etude pour "Avec Mona Lisa", Fine Art Drawings

Francine Van Hove

Etude pour "Avec Mona Lisa", 2017
19.7 x 25.6 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$2,387

Meteo Meteo, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Meteo Meteo

Sans titre, 2021
9.4 x 6.3 x 0 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$70

Enaer, A la ligne 1, Fine Art Drawings

Enaer

A la ligne 1, 2021
29.9 x 22 x 0.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$776

Patsy McArthur, Star Study, Fine Art Drawings

Patsy McArthur

Star Study, 2021
26 x 21.7 x 0 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,290

Menachem Gueffen, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Menachem Gueffen

Sans titre, 1993
11.4 x 9.8 x 2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$298

Georges Saulterre, L'irrésistible pulsion de l'Amour N°1611, Fine Art Drawings

Georges Saulterre

L'irrésistible pulsion de l'Amour N°1611, 2021
29.9 x 22 x 0.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$4,774

Valérie Hadida, Femme sur galet, Fine Art Drawings

Valérie Hadida

Femme sur galet, 2021
31.5 x 29.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$2,268

Pierre Alechinsky, Sans-titre, Fine Art Drawings

Pierre Alechinsky

Sans-titre, 2016
10.8 x 7.3 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$4,177

Alekos Fassianos, La divine Hellade I, Fine Art Drawings

Alekos Fassianos

La divine Hellade I, 2006
13.4 x 9.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$2,984

Raphaël Federici (ParisSketchCulture), Dessin, Fine Art Drawings

Raphaël Federici (ParisSketchCulture)

Dessin, 2019
14.6 x 10.6 x 0.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$454

Alice de Miramon, La cantatrice, Fine Art Drawings

Alice de Miramon

La cantatrice, 2021
11.8 x 8.7 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$895

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

Gabrielle Rul

Les gens de passage, 2021
9.1 x 12.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$358

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

Ernest Pignon-Ernest

Etude pour Artaud, 2000
6.7 x 4.7 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$7,161

Hildegarde Handsaeme, Gracieuseté, Fine Art Drawings

Hildegarde Handsaeme

Gracieuseté, 2018
29.9 x 21.7 x 0.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$454

Sébastien Mérieau, Vieillesse, Fine Art Drawings

Sébastien Mérieau

Vieillesse, 2018
8.7 x 6.3 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$60

Marika Gysbers, Liberty in progress, Fine Art Drawings

Marika Gysbers

Liberty in progress, 2020
15.7 x 11.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,122

Teresa Riba, Sentint l'aire, Fine Art Drawings

Teresa Riba

Sentint l'aire, 2016
51.2 x 39.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$2,148

Mel Ramos, Pucci Pants, Fine Art Drawings

Mel Ramos

Pucci Pants, 2015
8.7 x 7.5 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$4,500

Jolanta Johnsson, Together, Fine Art Drawings

Jolanta Johnsson

Together, 1997
16.5 x 11.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$477

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

Rudyard Heaton

Sans titre 14 (DED359712), 2018
11.8 x 15.7 x 0.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$286

Robert Combas, Les yeux fermier !, Fine Art Drawings

Robert Combas

Les yeux fermier !, 2020
18.1 x 11.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$17,784

Nef, Melancolia, Fine Art Drawings

Nef

Melancolia, 2019
7.1 x 5.1 x 0 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$118 $131

Arancha Tejedor, Personnages en mouvement 2, Fine Art Drawings

Arancha Tejedor

Personnages en mouvement 2, 2019
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$191

Sergio Moscona, Arbol genial - Logico, Fine Art Drawings

Sergio Moscona

Arbol genial - Logico, 2016
22 x 15 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$3,581

Sandra Chevrier, Untitled 14, Fine Art Drawings

Sandra Chevrier

Untitled 14, 2018
23.6 x 18.9 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$6,206

Our recommendations Jacek Swigulski, Muse V, Fine Art Drawings

Jacek Swigulski

Muse V, 2011
39.4 x 27.6 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,074

Paulina Maksjan, Magic, Fine Art Drawings

Paulina Maksjan

Magic, 2018
39.4 x 27.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$716

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

Ewa Kutylak

The King and the Queen, 2017
7.5 x 7.5 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$418

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
16.1 x 24 x 0.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$716

Katsuko Kuroya, Untitled (DEC355458), Fine Art Drawings

Katsuko Kuroya

Untitled (DEC355458), 2017
11.8 x 11.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$191

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
11.25 x 9 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$125,000

Jan Sumiga, The girl with matches, Fine Art Drawings

Jan Sumiga

The girl with matches, 1996
9.4 x 7.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$835

Henri Fehr, Portrait de femme, Fine Art Drawings

Henri Fehr

Portrait de femme, 1902
10.6 x 7.9 x 0 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$463

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

Zena Blackwell

A Blue One (study), 2021
8.3 x 5.6 x 0 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$224

Adam Niemczyc, Letter to Hieronymus Bosch, Fine Art Drawings

Adam Niemczyc

Letter to Hieronymus Bosch, 1982
12.8 x 15.9 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,671

Leszek Zegalski, Nude, Fine Art Drawings

Leszek Zegalski

Nude, 2017
27.6 x 19.7 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,552

Kashink, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Kashink

Sans titre, 2019
22.4 x 13.8 x 0.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$716

Igor Bodnar, Pritza iro Wiru, Fine Art Drawings

Igor Bodnar

Pritza iro Wiru, 1990
23.6 x 19.7 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$537

Stéphane Gisclard, Belle de dos, Fine Art Drawings

Stéphane Gisclard

Belle de dos, 2017
25.6 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$3,103

Olivier Massebeuf, Harvest, Fine Art Drawings

Olivier Massebeuf

Harvest, 2011
14.2 x 14.2 x 0.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$334

Christophe Faso, La dernière séance, Fine Art Drawings

Christophe Faso

La dernière séance, 2014
25.6 x 19.7 x 0.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$801

Karol Drzewiecki, Untitled, Fine Art Drawings

Karol Drzewiecki

Untitled, 2020
8.3 x 5.7 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$298

Pierre-François Grimaldi, Le Festival D'Avignon, Fine Art Drawings

Pierre-François Grimaldi

Le Festival D'Avignon, 2019
31.5 x 31.5 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$6,206

Gouzy, Big Horns, Fine Art Drawings

Gouzy

Big Horns, 2016
15.4 x 11.4 x 0.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$656

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

Stephen and Lorna Kirin

Jacob's Ladder, 2018
22.8 x 18.5 x 0.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,259

Aleksandra Kalisz, Sketch V, Fine Art Drawings

Aleksandra Kalisz

Sketch V, 2020
10.6 x 7.1 x 1.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$358

François Bard, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

François Bard

Sans titre, 2009
29.1 x 40.9 x 1.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$26,437

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

Carmen Selma

L'entrée pour les garçons, 2018
11.6 x 15.7 x 0.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$569

Lajos Szalay, Caresse tempérée, Fine Art Drawings

Lajos Szalay

Caresse tempérée, 1970
12.2 x 9.6 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$4,655

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

Jérôme Bouscarat

L'Hydre de Lerne, 2019
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$516

Roland Devolder, La rencontre, Fine Art Drawings

Roland Devolder

La rencontre, 2014
11.4 x 15.7 x 0 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,432

Markus Lüpertz, Vision de Poussin, Fine Art Drawings

Markus Lüpertz

Vision de Poussin, 2012
27.6 x 37 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$9,131

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

Alexandre Monteiro (Hopare)

Portrait homme, 2011
19.7 x 16.1 x 0.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$5,490

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

Emanuele Ravagnani

Self-Portrait #4, 2017
17.3 x 11.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,838

Virginie Remillieux, Faces n°4, Fine Art Drawings

Virginie Remillieux

Faces n°4, 2019
23.6 x 19.7 x 0.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$656

Guy  Oberson, Œdipe I, Fine Art Drawings

Guy Oberson

Œdipe I, 2019
18.7 x 14.2 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,194

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

Edouard Eugène Vallet

La Mère Fénollan (la Mère marchande), 1900
14.6 x 9.1 x 0.1 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,080

Kosta Kulundzic, Tropics beauty 3, Fine Art Drawings

Kosta Kulundzic

Tropics beauty 3, 2020
59.1 x 43.3 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$4,774

Laurent de Raucourt, Visage masque, Fine Art Drawings

Laurent de Raucourt

Visage masque, 2019
15.7 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,432

Our recommendations José Luis Cuevas, Political Demagogy III, Fine Art Drawings

José Luis Cuevas

Political Demagogy III, 1968
11 x 14 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$4,500

Amandine Urruty, Self portrait with trunk, Fine Art Drawings

Amandine Urruty

Self portrait with trunk, 2021
15.7 x 11.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,671

Cobalt, Recherche pour humains augmentés, Fine Art Drawings

Cobalt

Recherche pour humains augmentés, 2020
16.5 x 11.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$477

Laurina Paperina, Man in a Bowler Hat vs Pigeon, Fine Art Drawings

Laurina Paperina

Man in a Bowler Hat vs Pigeon, 2017
9.8 x 7.9 x 0.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$1,194

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