Definition for portrait - What types of portraits are there?

Definition for portrait simply explained

Many ask themselves the question, what is a portrait anyway? Portrait is derived from the French and is understood as an image or a photograph of a person.

The Art History of the Portrait What is Portrait Sketchus Portrait

When cropping a portrait, the whole body, a bust, the head or just the face of the person is shown. The aim is to focus as much as possible on the face or the eyes of the model in order to express the personality. An example of a portrait would be a passport photo.

portrait art

It is also a task to “stand in for” those who are not present or to keep a person’s memory. The portrait has received varying degrees of recognition throughout its development.

What types of portraits are there?

They are differentiated according to the form of presentation

  • Effigy head: the head is seen including the neck
  • Bust: Depiction of the shoulders and a large part of the upper body in continuation of the head and neck
  • Chestpiece: Figure of most of the torso with full or partial arms
  • Half-Length: The person's figure is shown to the waist
  • Knee-length: the sitter is drawn up to the knees
  • Whole figure: Representation of the drawn person in its entirety

Definition of portrait

A distinction is also made according to the degree of rotation

  • Front View: Face is shown from the front
  • Half profile: Portrait is painted only half from the side
  • Three-quarter view: one side of the head can be seen in full, while the other is greatly foreshortened
  • Profile: The face is shown turned halfway to the side

Art history portrait


The Art History of the Portrait

The art of the portrait was cultivated in ancient Greece as early as 500 BC. In the Middle Ages man as an individual receded behind faith. Thus, the Art Portrait style was changed. For example, small portraits were inserted into biblical scenes to show the donor of the work of art (Pope or Bishop).

In the Middle Ages, the images of a person were initially created for idealization and transcendent reality. It is presented in a comprehensive, timeless manner, pleasing to the eye of God, and in a form stripped of all accidental, inessential.

In the late Middle Ages, the pictorial space was filled with visualized information such as the name or monogram, coat of arms, medals and motto of the person depicted, as well as the year of publication.

portrait what is this

The Beginnings and High Points of Portraiture

The aim of the powerful in the earlier "portraits" of art history was to depict them on the coin reliefs, to find their distribution and to show their "power" through still images. The striving for immortality through the representation of the face, which was manifested in ancient times in mummy masks and mummy paintings, was of great importance.

In the last few centuries, a large number of painters, photographers, sculptors and filmmakers have contributed to creating a great variety of representations. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, there were very strict rules about how someone was to be portrayed according to his or her rank. Only over the course of time were these changed and became less and less relevant at the latest with the French Revolution.

Transformation of Renaissance portraiture

The main task of Renaissance art in the 14th, 15th and early 16th centuries was the depiction of religious, secular and mythological scenes as a message. Best suited for publication in huge murals as well as monumental sculptures.

The Mona Lisa is the most famous portrait of the Italian Renaissance, drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci at the age of 50.

development of portraiture

The mercantile prosperity of the Italian city-states and a few northern European ports led to the artistic revival known as the Renaissance.

portrait painting

From then on, instead of ecclesiastical commissions for murals, statues and other works of art, wealthy rulers and citizens throughout Europe became important patrons of fine arts, especially Renaissance portraits.

Portraits from the Proto-Renaissance (13th-14th centuries)

Byzantine art greatly influenced Italian Gothic art. This had a linear, flat style with striking compositions, especially when depicting the Passion of Christ. During this time, rounded, realistic faces and figures began to be painted.

Four principles define early Renaissance painting (ca. 1420-1520).

  • A reverent admiration of Greek antiquity
  • Belief in humanism
  • Mastering linear perspective
  • Respect for the naturalistic painting of the human form

The Northern Renaissance (1420-1520)

Her art was pragmatic and down to earth. It was also based on two crucial principles:

  • Oil paint was discovered, which allows endless reworking of the portrait and thus a unique clarity of detail
  • The appreciation of linear perspective as well as the refined shading

More: Portrait drawings by Sketchus

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