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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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Seaty, Luanda, Painting

Seaty

Luanda, 2019
57.5 x 44.9 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$14,928

Jazzu, Somewhere, Painting

Jazzu

Somewhere, 2020
15.7 x 11.8 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$958

Miss Fuck, Pensif, Painting

Miss Fuck

Pensif, 2021
36.2 x 23.6 x 1 inch
Painting

$809

Thierry Carrier, Code 2101, Painting

Thierry Carrier

Code 2101, 2021
51.2 x 35 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$4,976

Martine Fauve Dechavanne, Champagne en musique, Painting

Martine Fauve Dechavanne

Champagne en musique, 2020
31.5 x 31.5 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$2,239

Milburn-Foster, Femme sur la Plage, Painting

Milburn-Foster

Femme sur la Plage, 2021
39.4 x 28.7 inch
Painting

$3,421

Hom Nguyen, Human, Painting

Hom Nguyen

Human, 2021
78.7 x 78.7 x 2 inch
Painting

25,000 - $ 50,000

Olivier Massebeuf, Nocturne, Painting

Olivier Massebeuf

Nocturne, 2021
51.2 x 35 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$1,742

Ora Ora, Skateboard - Moise, Painting

Ora Ora

Skateboard - Moise, 2021
31.5 x 7.9 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$746

Miss Tic, Et Bien Dansez Maintenant, Painting

Miss Tic

Et Bien Dansez Maintenant, 2014
51.2 x 38.2 x 1.2 inch
Painting

15,000 - $ 25,000

Mino Maccari, The Scarecrow, Painting

Mino Maccari

The Scarecrow, 1960
8.1 x 5.9 x 0 inch
Painting

$473

Els Knockaert, Soatsaki, Painting

Els Knockaert

Soatsaki, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 2 inch
Painting

$3,110

Fabien Novarino, 911 and Pink, Painting

Fabien Novarino

911 and Pink, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$2,053

Jean-Philippe Berger, We want to change the world, Painting

Jean-Philippe Berger

We want to change the world, 2021
31.5 x 15.7 x 1.2 inch
Painting

Sold

Marie KVK, La jeune fille à la perle - golden, Painting

Marie KVK

La jeune fille à la perle - golden, 2021
47.2 x 31.5 x 1.8 inch
Painting

$5,349

Jérôme Bouscarat, L'oiseau chasseur, Painting

Jérôme Bouscarat

L'oiseau chasseur, 2021
28.7 x 23.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$1,586

Henry Meylan, Jeune Japonaise à l'éventail et au violon, Painting

Henry Meylan

Jeune Japonaise à l'éventail et au violon, 1974
21.7 x 18.1 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$739

Luigi Corbellini, Portrait de jeune fille, Painting

Luigi Corbellini

Portrait de jeune fille, 1946
14 x 10.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$534

Francoise Augustine, Inari, Painting

Francoise Augustine

Inari, 2021
25.6 x 19.7 inch
Painting

$1,866

Frédérique Assaël, Samuel, Painting

Frédérique Assaël

Samuel, 2021
51.2 x 38.2 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$7,464

Percival Pernet, Jeune femme à la lecture, Painting

Percival Pernet

Jeune femme à la lecture, 1957
28.7 x 23.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$853

André Lanskoy, La famille, Painting

André Lanskoy

La famille, 1940
5.5 x 7.5 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$4,105

Franz Wanger, Artiste et modèle à l'atelier, Painting

Franz Wanger

Artiste et modèle à l'atelier, 1924
28.7 x 22.8 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$1,432

Jéko, 17h25 dans le jardin, Painting

Jéko

17h25 dans le jardin, 2020
25.6 x 19.7 x 0.1 inch
Painting

$1,057

Philippe Pasqua, Visage I, Painting

Philippe Pasqua

Visage I, 2012
78.7 x 59.1 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$22,392

Mauro Maugliani, Ring of Fire, Painting

Mauro Maugliani

Ring of Fire, 2021
39.4 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$21,895

Ernesto Ercolani, Romantic Self-Portrait, Painting

Ernesto Ercolani

Romantic Self-Portrait, 1960
18.8 x 26 x 0 inch
Painting

$1,120

DN, Goku, Painting

DN

Goku, 2021
31.5 x 9.4 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$809

Alexander Daniloff, Lupi di mare, Painting

Alexander Daniloff

Lupi di mare, 2017
3.9 x 8.3 x 0.1 inch
Painting

$131

Raya Sorkine, Le banquet, Painting

Raya Sorkine

Le banquet, 1990
10.6 x 8.7 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$5,847

B.AX, Art Station, Painting

B.AX

Art Station, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 inch
Painting

$1,605

Mario Henrique, Somnium No. 4, Series IX, Painting

Mario Henrique

Somnium No. 4, Series IX, 2021
39.4 x 39.4 inch
Painting

$4,900

Lucas Ninin, La Joven de la Perla, Painting

Lucas Ninin

La Joven de la Perla, 2021
39.4 x 31.5 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$1,057

Manuel Santelices, Prada Bag Ladies, Painting

Manuel Santelices

Prada Bag Ladies, 2021
12 x 9 x 0.1 inch
Painting

$600

Patricia Simsa, L’as de cœur, Painting

Patricia Simsa

L’as de cœur, 2021
39.4 x 39.4 x 2 inch
Painting

Sold

Marie Montagnat, En coulisse 2, Painting

Marie Montagnat

En coulisse 2, 2017
39.4 x 39.4 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$1,866

Raf Urban, Hope #7, Painting

Raf Urban

Hope #7, 2021
39.4 x 39.4 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$1,431

Christopher Henry, Téléphone Rose, Painting

Christopher Henry

Téléphone Rose, 2021
7.5 x 6.1 x 0 inch
Painting

$249

Chloé Kelly Miller, Coucher de soleil, Painting

Chloé Kelly Miller

Coucher de soleil, 2021
45.7 x 35 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$1,990

Marta Grassi, De retour, Painting

Marta Grassi

De retour, 2021
57.1 x 27.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$3,110

Hope 1393, Maliha, Painting

Hope 1393

Maliha, 2021
8 x 12 inch
Painting

$1,400

Meteo Meteo, Sans titre, Painting

Meteo Meteo

Sans titre, 2021
11.7 x 8.3 x 0 inch
Painting

$81

Carlos Pun, Mona Lisa Pop Art Series ft. El Barto , Michelin , Kermit the Frog, Rolling Stones, Painting

Carlos Pun

Mona Lisa Pop Art Series ft. El Barto , Michelin , Kermit the Frog, Rolling Stones, 2021
35.4 x 27.6 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$2,700

Yaroslava Neli Shai, Jane, Painting

Yaroslava Neli Shai

Jane, 2021
39.4 x 47.2 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$3,110

Nathan Chantob, Concession, Painting

Nathan Chantob

Concession, 2021
39.4 x 39.4 x 2 inch
Painting

$5,598

Virut Panchabuse, Yellow Hooded, Painting

Virut Panchabuse

Yellow Hooded, 2021
66.9 x 55.1 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$13,684

Sax Berlin, Tanya the red: red rebel brigade, Painting

Sax Berlin

Tanya the red: red rebel brigade, 2021
48 x 36 x 2 inch
Painting

$19,593

Shepard Fairey (Obey), Harmony, Painting

Shepard Fairey (Obey)

Harmony, 2012
24.4 x 18.1 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$12,565

Aldéhy, Face à Soie, Painting

Aldéhy

Face à Soie, 2021
18.1 x 15 x 2 inch
Painting

$2,476

Bastien Ducourtioux, Trefoil, Painting

Bastien Ducourtioux

Trefoil, 2020
47.2 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$2,239

Serghei Ghetiu, The one way ticket, Painting

Serghei Ghetiu

The one way ticket, 2021
23.6 x 29.5 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$995

James Earley, Dollars And Oil Steal Life, Painting

James Earley

Dollars And Oil Steal Life, 2021
20.5 x 30.3 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$3,838

Cana, Mire War, Painting

Cana

Mire War, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 2 inch
Painting

$1,230

Henriette Barety, Ensemble, Painting

Henriette Barety

Ensemble, 1972
15 x 11.2 inch
Painting

$311

Dima Filatov, Summer Mood, Painting

Dima Filatov

Summer Mood, 2020
16.5 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$311

Jone Hopper, Danseuse jaune, Painting

Jone Hopper

Danseuse jaune, 2021
28.7 x 23.6 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$1,431

Craig Alan, Populus: Audrey “At First Glance”, Painting

Craig Alan

Populus: Audrey “At First Glance”, 2018
38 x 32 x 2 inch
Painting

$16,000

Corinne Asseraf, Warhol, Painting

Corinne Asseraf

Warhol, 2021
48 x 36 x 1.5 inch
Painting

$6,500

Julien Morel, James Brown, Painting

Julien Morel

James Brown, 2018
39.4 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$4,230

Hunt Slonem, Untitled | Abe, Painting

Hunt Slonem

Untitled | Abe, 2014
18.5 x 13.5 inch
Painting

$9,800

Ellina Zhanu, Ewan, Painting

Ellina Zhanu

Ewan, 2021
15.7 x 11.8 inch
Painting

$697 $871

Anne Siems, Forest Lover, Painting

Anne Siems

Forest Lover, 2020
24 x 17.9 x 0 inch
Painting

$1,866

Gor Avetisyan, Love II, Painting

Gor Avetisyan

Love II, 2021
24.8 x 13 inch
Painting

$361

Art’No., Paola, Painting

Art’No.

Paola, 2020
19.7 x 19.7 inch
Painting

$435

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