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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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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

$14,770

Hom Nguyen, Visage - Série Racines, Fine Art Drawings

Hom Nguyen

Visage - Série Racines, 2019
80 x 60 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

10,000 - $ 15,000

Kirill Postovit, The springtime tango together, Fine Art Drawings

Kirill Postovit

The springtime tango together, 2020
70 x 50 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$236 $491

Stéphane Dupuis, Urban pose color 2, Fine Art Drawings

Stéphane Dupuis

Urban pose color 2, 2020
20 x 20 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$455

Tarek, L'homme sans corps, Fine Art Drawings

Tarek

L'homme sans corps, 2020
25.5 x 18 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$190

Sébastien Mérieau, Dis, quand reviendras-tu?, Fine Art Drawings

Sébastien Mérieau

Dis, quand reviendras-tu?, 2020
25 x 16.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$62

Jean Cocteau, La mort me veut, Fine Art Drawings

Jean Cocteau

La mort me veut, 1960
41 x 29 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$8,000

Bunkt_, untitled, Fine Art Drawings

Bunkt_

untitled, 2020
35.6 x 27.9 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$70

Grégoire Devin, Woman In The Sun, Fine Art Drawings

Grégoire Devin

Woman In The Sun, 2021
65 x 45 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$550

Robert Combas, Docteur Banane Mordeur Professionnel, Fine Art Drawings

Robert Combas

Docteur Banane Mordeur Professionnel, 2004
63 x 48 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$21,540

Amor de Agua, L'esprit des arbres et la femme, Fine Art Drawings

Amor de Agua

L'esprit des arbres et la femme, 2021
21 x 14.8 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$98

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

$345

Georges Saulterre, N°1596 Jeunes filles à la perle, Fine Art Drawings

Georges Saulterre

N°1596 Jeunes filles à la perle, 2021
76 x 56 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$5,539

Louis Touchagues, Femme assise en robe, Fine Art Drawings

Louis Touchagues

Femme assise en robe, 1950
32 x 24.6 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$591

Bruno Angoletta, Arabic Prince, Fine Art Drawings

Bruno Angoletta

Arabic Prince, 1920
14.5 x 5 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$554

Alfred Pichon, Portrait, Fine Art Drawings

Alfred Pichon

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

$554

Robert Leach, New York Portrait Series #6, Fine Art Drawings

Robert Leach

New York Portrait Series #6, 1981
26.7 x 21.6 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$750

Louisa Minkin, Amman Heterotopia, Peace march, Fine Art Drawings

Louisa Minkin

Amman Heterotopia, Peace march, 2012
22 x 30 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,108

Valérie Hadida, Carré de femmes, Fine Art Drawings

Valérie Hadida

Carré de femmes, 2020
70 x 73 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$2,831

Sandra Chevrier, Untitled 14, Fine Art Drawings

Sandra Chevrier

Untitled 14, 2018
60 x 48 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$6,400

Hildegarde Handsaeme, Gracieuseté, Fine Art Drawings

Hildegarde Handsaeme

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

$468

Alekos Fassianos, La divine Hellade I, Fine Art Drawings

Alekos Fassianos

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

$3,077

Lantomo, Snow 2 - Darkness Series, Fine Art Drawings

Lantomo

Snow 2 - Darkness Series, 2019
70 x 50 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,969

Guy Denning, Paycheck, Fine Art Drawings

Guy Denning

Paycheck, 2018
70 x 50 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$985

tizlu, Saving Audrey, Fine Art Drawings

tizlu

Saving Audrey, 2021
70 x 50 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$862

Katsuko Kuroya, Untitled (DEC355458), Fine Art Drawings

Katsuko Kuroya

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

$197

Arancha Tejedor, Personnages en mouvement 10, Fine Art Drawings

Arancha Tejedor

Personnages en mouvement 10, 2019
40 x 30 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$197

Sergio Moscona, Les architectes de la parole III, Fine Art Drawings

Sergio Moscona

Les architectes de la parole III, 2011
120 x 40 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$5,908

Olivier Massebeuf, Harvest, Fine Art Drawings

Olivier Massebeuf

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

$345

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

Alexandre Monteiro (Hopare)

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

$5,170

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

$739

Mara, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Mara

Sans titre, 2019
58 x 77.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$431

Béatrice Terra, Mon grand père, Fine Art Drawings

Béatrice Terra

Mon grand père, 2020
40 x 30 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$431

Allison M. Low, Marigold, Fine Art Drawings

Allison M. Low

Marigold, 2015
42 x 42 x 1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$1,834

Stéphane Gisclard, Belle de dos, Fine Art Drawings

Stéphane Gisclard

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

$3,200

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

$532

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

Mohamed Lekleti, Untitled, Fine Art Drawings

Mohamed Lekleti

Untitled, 2015
30 x 30 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$2,462

Gabrielle Rul, A Little Bit of Kindness, Fine Art Drawings

Gabrielle Rul

A Little Bit of Kindness, 2021
29.7 x 21 cm
Fine Art Drawings

Sold out

Enaer, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Enaer

Sans titre, 2020
70 x 50 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$638

Etienne Quesnay, La Fumeuse, Fine Art Drawings

Etienne Quesnay

La Fumeuse, 2020
31 x 23 x 0.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$492

Adam Sabhan, Portrait, Fine Art Drawings

Adam Sabhan

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

$3,446

Kyliss, Sans titre 4.4.2, Fine Art Drawings

Kyliss

Sans titre 4.4.2, 2017
130 x 97 x 3 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$4,308

Kashink, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Kashink

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

$739

Lajos Szalay, Caresse tempérée, Fine Art Drawings

Lajos Szalay

Caresse tempérée, 1970
31 x 24.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$4,800

Markus Lüpertz, Vision de Poussin, Fine Art Drawings

Markus Lüpertz

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

$9,416

Roland Devolder, La rencontre, Fine Art Drawings

Roland Devolder

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

$1,477

Henri Fehr, Portrait de femme, Fine Art Drawings

Henri Fehr

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

$423

Christophe Faso, La dernière séance, Fine Art Drawings

Christophe Faso

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

$826

Eugenia Jaeger, Observation, Fine Art Drawings

Eugenia Jaeger

Observation, 2017
42 x 59 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$862

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

$1,969

Nef, Melancolia, Fine Art Drawings

Nef

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

$135

Virginie Remillieux, Faces n°4, Fine Art Drawings

Virginie Remillieux

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

$677

Laurent de Raucourt, Visage masque, Fine Art Drawings

Laurent de Raucourt

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

$1,477

Lucio Forte, Salvius Iulianus, Fine Art Drawings

Lucio Forte

Salvius Iulianus, 2021
33 x 24 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$135

Gérard Traquandi, Sans titre, Fine Art Drawings

Gérard Traquandi

Sans titre, 2016
23 x 14.5 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$492

Jéko, Portrait #3, Fine Art Drawings

Jéko

Portrait #3, 2020
29.7 x 21 x 0.2 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$382

Piotr Kamieniarz, Hipnotyzer, Fine Art Drawings

Piotr Kamieniarz

Hipnotyzer, 2020
50 x 35 x 0.1 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$862

Marika Gysbers, Liberty in progress, Fine Art Drawings

Marika Gysbers

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

$1,157

Carne Griffiths, Reconnecting, Fine Art Drawings

Carne Griffiths

Reconnecting, 2015
83 x 64 x 7 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$4,677

Agathe Wagner, Untitled, Fine Art Drawings

Agathe Wagner

Untitled, 2014
36 x 46 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$739

Ofobuike Okudoh, Intribe, Fine Art Drawings

Ofobuike Okudoh

Intribe, 2020
100 x 70 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$6,770

Gouzy, Big Horns, Fine Art Drawings

Gouzy

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

$677

Michel Flamme, Viola, Fine Art Drawings

Michel Flamme

Viola, 2016
65 x 65 cm
Fine Art Drawings

$3,631

60 Artworks on 1918

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