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Portrait painting is a form of painting in which the objective is to portray the features of the subject in the painting. Portraits are commissioned by people on request, a way of remembering the dead by family members or due to the artists' personal interest in the subject.
Subjects of Portrait Paintings
The subjects of portrait paintings are wide ranging. Mostly humans are depicted in portraits but there is a record of portraits of animals and non-living things as well.
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Charles Dickens once said
"There are only two styles of portrait painting, the serious and the smirk."
This is historically accurate as most of the portraits are painted as serious with only a few ever painted with a smile. The techniques employed in portrait painting should focus on portraying the inner intensity of the subject.
One technique employed by portrait painters is the depiction of three views of the subject's face. Portraits can be painted in varying lengths: the "full length", "half length" and a bust which is basically the head and shoulders.
The styles of painting vary from artist to artist and they also depend on the demands of the person who is being portrayed. Some artists like their portraits to be as realistic as possible so they put in every little detail possible. A successful portrait can only be painted if the artist is cognisant with the anatomy of subject's body.
Mona Lisa is probably one of the most famous paintings of all times. It was painted between the years 1503 to 1519 by Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s oil on canvas portrait of Lisa Gheradini the wife of Francesco delGiocondo. Mona Lisa has a mysterious smile on her face and art critics and contemporaries all over the world have speculated over the reason behind her smile. Some people say that the artist shows Lisa as happy but some believe that it is a sad smile.
Girl with a Pearl Earring
This is a painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer which was completed in 1665. It is known as "Mona Lisa of the North" and the subject is a girl wearing a scarf on her head and a pearl earring in her ear. Her mouth is slightly open and the eyes are painted as if she has no eyebrows. The girl has an air of innocence about her.
It is a very famous portrait painting by American artist James Mcneill Whistler which was completed in 1871. It was originally named "Arrangement in Grey and Black: The artist's mother". However, the name was truncated for brevity. It shows an old woman wearing black clothes and a white scarf on her head. She is sitting alone in front of a picture. The whole portrait has a subdued tone as it is painted using mostly black and grey colours.
There can be several reasons why portrait paintings should adorn the walls of our houses. One of the reasons is that portraits of famous people add a class to the house. They can have a motivating effect on the members of the household. So one or two portrait paintings should definitely be used when decorating the house.