Portrait Paintings are artistic representation of human beings. The aristic intent is toshow the appearnce of the person and capture some charcteristical trait of that verypersom which makes him or her a distinct human being. Great masters manage to make celebrities out of nameless, unknown people (Da Vinciís Mona Lisa) or bare their soul in their self portraits (Van Gogh). Good Portraiture is like a well written biography, itís a journey to a persons soul.
History of Portrait Painting
Some of the earliest examples of Portraiture are to be found in Egypt's Fayum district.
These are funeral portraits of ordinary people. In Rome the art of portraiture found shape in beautiful sculptures. However in Europe the idealized figures of kings and rulers began to be popular and authentic depiction of form and figure was relegated to the shadows.
In the middle Ages, portraiture became fashionable in France.
Famous Portrait Paintings
We will try to analyze two very different portraits from two different eras to understand the true nature of representation through the visual medium.
Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona-Lisa
Mona Lisa , or La Gioconda (La Joconde) was painted in the 16th-century and is an oil on poplar wood.this portrait of the unknown model has captured the heart of the millions. For nearly 500 years, a sense of bafflement overwhelms those who stare at Da Vinci's most famous portrait. She appears to be smiling at times and the very next moment the smile fades away. How did the great painter capture such a mysterious expression and why haven't other artists copied it? After running the painting through an emotion recognition software (specially designed for this very purpose), they claimed that the smile is 83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful, 2% angry, less than 1% neutral, and not surprised at all.
Dora Maar au Chat ( Dora Maar with Cat)- Picasso
This potrait of Picasso's mistress with a small cat perched on her shoulder is a specimen his cubist style.His attempt was to represent his mistress in the way he percieved her. Contrasting colors are used to achieve outstanding special effects. No wonder that today its one of the worlds most expensive paintings.
Famous Self Portraits
When the artist creates a portrait of him- or herself, it is called a self-portrait . Most famous artists have indulged in self portraiture.there is probably a need in ever creative human being to depict oneself in a way which is unique. Self portraiture is a great way of understanding thay way an artist percieved himself/herself. Some interesting self Potraits are discussed below.
Vincent Van Gogh's Self Portrait
In his Self portrait Van Gogh depicts himself as a totured, pained man. His eyes seem haunted and face weathered. Indeed, Van Gogh in his self portrait makes no attempt to project himself in a flattering light. He uses long harsh strokes and therefore the face gains some kind of angularity. However the painting is hauntingly peaceful. The man may be pained, but you realise, that the person staring back at you knows what he is capable of and in some way is at pecae with himself.
Other important self portraits are
Cezanne's Self Portrait
Da Vincis Self Portrait
Joshua Reynolds Self Portrait