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Portrait as a Genre of Visual Art

           Portraits are among the most important genres in the history of art. Portraits are the most commonly used artistic genre in art generally. It can perform very powerful magic despite all the obstacles it is facing today. They are very popular and live today and even in the coming days. Portraits can symbolize a figure’s physical and psychological characteristics, which makes it very magical. When designing a portrait, the artist focuses on showing the sitter’s appearance and some elements of their behavior. Portraits mostly relate to a message that an artist or the person who commissioned the work wanted to communicate.

What is a portrait?

Portrait is a work of art that records the resemblances between a human being and an existing animal. Portraiture is used to describe this category of art. The function of a portrait is to memorialize someone’s image for the future. Portraits can be generated through painting, photography, sculpture, or any other method. Artists design some portraiture strictly for the sake of making art. The human being’s body and face are fascinating subjects that various artists fancy today in their works.

Types of portraits in art.

Somebody might imagine that many portraits are created while the subject is still living. It may be a person or a group like a family. Portraits paintings are more than just simple documentation. A portrait painting is the interpretation of the artist about the subject. Portraits can be very realistic, abstract, or even representational. Through photography, you can record the life journey of people and the way they look like. This was impossible before the medium’s invention in the mid- the 1800s; therefore, people depended on painters to generate their portraits.

Painted portraits today are viewed as a luxury compared to the previous century. They always seem to be painted meant for special occasions, important people, or just an artwork. Because of the charges involve, most people will opt to go with photography instead of hiring a painter. A posthumous portrait is a type of portrait achieved after the death of the subject. It can be done by either copying another portrait or following the person’s orders commissioning the work. Single photographs of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, or any saints are not seen as portraits; they are devotional images.

Various artists opt to do a personal portrait. It is a work of art symbolizing the artist made by their own hands. These are made from a reference photo or by checking on the mirror. Self-portraits can offer you a good sense of ways in which different artists perceive themselves, and in most cases, it is rather reflective. Many artists will often make self-portraits, some once in their whole life, while others will not attempt.

In most cases, portraits record the subject’s features, though, it mostly tells something concerning them. A portrait of the art historian Robert Rosenblum (1927- 2006) by Kathleen Gilje captures the sitter’s face. Sitters are a portrait because traditionally, people could assemble in front of the artist to have their portraits painted, unlike today, where an artist can use a photograph to make a portrait. Hence, not every person has to ‘sit’ for a portrait.

It celebrates his successful Ingres scholarship by the appropriation of Jean- Auguste- Domonique Ingres portrait of the Comte de Pastorate (1791- 1857). Ingres’ portraits were done in 1826, and Gilje’s portrait was done in 2006, many months before Rosenblum collaborated on the selection of appropriation

In other cases, portraits involve inanimate objects that represent the subject identity. It is not a must that it has to include subjects itself. Portraits can be designed using different sizes. When the painting was the only manner of capturing people’s likeness, many well-off families opted to memorialize people in portrait miniatures. These paintings were mostly done in enamel, gauche, or watercolor on animals’ skin, ivory, vellum, or the same support. The information of these tiny portraits, mostly just some inches, is amazing and designed by very talented artists.

Portraits surround people; it is seen in people’s representations everywhere. Nevertheless, in contemporary art, portraits are much more than just representation. It can adapt its genre to the needs of contemporary art. Portraits are still existing, common, and very many people fancy it. Due to various art movements, portraits have changed the forms.

New artists making beautiful portraits are arising, and they make sure the strong status of the portrait in contemporary art. Portraits’ magic is very powerful. In politics, leaders are mostly used as a state symbol of the state. In many countries, it is usual protocol for a portrait of the head of state to be seen in important government buildings.

Portraits are effective and compelling when they inform you of something concerning somebody. A good portrait should show a person’s visual representation and reveal something about the person’s importance. The portraits may not reveal something completely true; at times, it can be bravely implied through a certain expression or pose.

The person in the portrait can become iconic, representing a larger group of people who share something in common from a particular time. Portraits examine various things in someone’s life, such as facial expression, gesture, clothing, setting, and objects.

In summary, a portrait is generally defined as representing a particular person that an artist may encounter in life. They record a person’s common features and speak a lot about who they are by giving a vivid sense of a real person’s presence. Portraits can inform you much about a person, people, or animal featured in the artwork. The artists’ criteria in handling the medium will also inform you of their intention behind their work.

Portraits are commonly found in homes, museums, and art galleries. They can be in the form of painting, drawing, sculpture, or photographs, which your changing identity and aspirations. In the past, very few people could have a portrait in the whole of their lives; therefore, artists were being chosen with much care and high expectations. Portraits are the artistic representation of people.


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