Portrait art has produced some of the most profound and famous artworks of all-time, from The Mona Lisa to American Gothic to Kahlo and Picasso’s self-portraits.

Truly, the portrait is one of the most important art styles in history.

Their ability to show the power behind a human face and form in a multitude of mediums is unmatched, making a great decorative addition to any home.

This article is all about taking a deep-dive into what makes portraiture and portrait art so incredibly meaningful. We’ll go through things such as:

  • What is portrait art?
  • The History of Portraits
  • Portrait Photography
  • Where you can find the best portraits online

Ready to go?

Let’s get rolling!

What is Portrait Art?

Colours Of The Rainbow 4 – Yigit Dundar
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A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a human being in which the face and it’s expression is the predominant focus.

Portrait art seeks to display things such as:

  • The likeness of a person
  • The personality of a person
  • The mood of a person

Achieving these things is extremely difficult in a stagnant, two-dimensional painting. That’s why when pulled off, portraits are revered as masterpieces.

Portraits often show the subject looking directly at the painter or photographer in order to thoroughly engage the person with the viewer. Oftentimes the eyes of the subject tell the most vital story, as exemplified in pieces such as The Mona Lisa.

History of Portrait Art

The Garden Of Eden by Olga Hassan
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The oldest portraits date back between 9000 and 6000 B.C as plastered sculptures. These sculptures were usually made from the skulls of high-ranking members of society to honor and remember their existence.

Most early portrait art in ancient civilizations such as Egypt were representations of rulers, calling upon idealized artistic conventions that make identifying these important figures difficult for modern-day art historians. The idea was to show these rulers as perfect and flawless, and in some cases, even God-like.

Portrait art also flourished in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, although the focus had shifted. Sitters were given more control over their depiction, many of which requested realistic portraits, even if they were unflattering.

The cycles and intentions of portraiture varied over time and through cultures, with subjects being shown in idealized states all the way down to utter realism. In the Western world, for example, the Early Middle Ages were defined by generalized depictions. As the Enlightenment era came out in The Renaissance, however, true portraits of outward appearance re-emerged from Ancient Greek and Roman times.

Portrait Photography

Blind Man Playing by Juancho Everman
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Before the invention of the camera, portraits were entirely dependent on a painter or sculpturist to depict the subject.

But once the camera staked its claim, the world of portrait art was changed forever.

Portrait photography is difficult to explicitly define due to its wide range of applications. Traditional photography portraits tend to follow many of the same conventions as historical portraits — with one forward-facing subject, a focus on the face, and a gaze directly into the camera.

But some modern art critics have argued that ‘selfies’ are a form of self-portraiture, especially when you consider the addition of filters and implementation of unique camera angles.

The rise of digital art has also empowered artists to manipulate photographic images to tell an entirely new story. To see some great examples of this, check out this page.

Where to Find The Best Contemporary Portrait Art

The storied history of portraits is still alive and well in the contemporary art sphere, with artists across the world finding new ways to depict subjects through stunning originality.

Think that a portrait could be a great addition to your art collection?

You’ve come to the right place!

Here at Gallerima, we have portraits in all different styles — from contemporary to traditional to abstract.

Check out these collections:

We’re sure that you’ll discover some amazing portraits that will absolutely revolutionize the way you view the human face!

And the best part?

Every purchase is safe and secure using our escrow system. Your card won’t be charged until you’ve received the painting or photograph at your doorstep and approved it.

It’s online art buying the way it should be!

We hope that this article has been helpful for you in discovering the wide world of portrait art! Stick around and shop for a while and remember: art buying is fun!