How Portrait Painting Started | Notable Portrait Artists | History of Portraiture

“A Brief History of portraiture | Best Portrait Artists From Old to Modern”

Portrait artist is a person who makes paintings, sculpture or other artistic representation of a person or other subject. Portrait artists have expertise in representation of expression like mood of the person, personality etc.

Contemporary artist mostly demands a digital photo to make a portrait.

Portrait artists can make portrait of human beings, animals with emotions or situations. From the per-historic time to the present, many Portrait Artists have shown their instant and circumstances by portrait art.

Portrait artists are like a messenger of the time, for those who love to speak the factual history. This is  like a documented history for modern historian. History of portrait artists has parallel ways with the history of humankind.

Portrait artists always been helpful to human kind by transmitting the history and culture to the next generation. They made remembrances of people, emperors and other important folks or things.

These old sculptures and murals are also very factual representation to understand the previous era. There have been many great portrait artists in different parts of the world from pre-historic time to contemporary.

In this article, we will try to figure out the whole phenomenon about the subject portrait painting and portrait artist.

Pre-Historic Portrait Artists and Portrait Painting.

The root of portrait painting are found in prehistoric time. However, only few of them currently are in place today.  The civilization of pre-historic Egypt was richer in this art.

Archaeological agencies have found some good evidence of different styled painting of that time. Ancient Egyptian made depictions of their God’s and rulers.

Sometime they tried to make depiction on the wall of the caves, sometime figurative painting on big stones and  nettle etc.

The most primitive painting is a cave painting found in the cave of Maltravieso in Spain.

This is the first painting of the history; this cave painting has a three non-figurative symbols.  There is many other small evidence of cave painting found from all over the world like from India, China, and France etc.

Egyptian painting has relatively less importance to likeness at least until 14th century BC. Some archaeologist believes that portrait painting in china started around 1000 B.C. but none of them found as survived.

However, some artifacts and written praises show that portrait painting was very popular in Greek in that time. It is  highly recommended as historical evidences on the subject.

  Roman portrait artists adopted a mix technique from Greek and Etruscan civilization on their portraiture.

New Tradition of the Pre-Historic Portraiture.

They made a new tradition on the history of portrait painting. Roman portrait artists made portraits of their ancestors, kings and God; they also successfully made the characteristic portraits of the politics of that time.

Few painting on the wall of thumb and some profile on coins survives today as well.

There is no any proved name of pre-historic portrait artist found until today.  However, basis of the evidence found, we can say that portrait painting or art of making depiction has been quite affluent on the pre-historic time.

Portraiture and Portrait artists were on the sky around of Anno Domini (A.D.)

The climet was dry in some areas of Egypt’s, and dry climate is good for the life of a old styled portrait. Some portraits of funeral paintings dating from the start of AD to 4th century AD survived even today.

While excavating on Pompeii and Herculaneum situated in Italy and North America on nineteenth century, archaeologist found one great peace of portrait from 55th to 80th AD.

This was a mural portrait of a couple made with ashes and lawa and lasted for 2000 years. Historian has different opinion on the the subject of the portrait.

Some other portraits found on “Fayum” a city in middle Egypt, are aged back 200 to 300 AD.  Theses portraits are made of en-caustic substances like a mix of bee wax and pigments.

The base of these portraits are wooden and seems be to made to honor and remember dead people. These portraits became worshiping content or religious material on later stage.

These paintings from roman periods are the only painting sources to understand about this era.  However, some writing sources also have been on the board of historian and archaeologists.

Like the writings of Pliny the Elde. These writing say that portrait painting in Greek era was well cultivated and practiced by both women and man.

 However, at the same time the writer also emphasized on the declining state of the portrait painting and the work of portrait artists.

Valuable Statement:-

Pliny stated, “The portrait painting was a good medium to transmit the actual picture of the time and was a good way to keep the remembrances lifelong, but now it has abolished. Laziness is dominating the entire scenario of painting and quality of portrait artists has declined”.

Portrait Artist of Pre-Historic Time.  

There is no any proved name of pre-historic portrait artist found until today. However on the basis of the evidences found, we can say that portrait painting or art of making depiction has been quite affluent on the pre-historic time.

Portraiture and Portrait Artists During 500 AD TO 1000 AD.

Portrait painting of early 500 AD are mostly donor portraits. Like portrait gifted by someone else and sometime self portraits as well. They gave some importance to likeness with contemporary coins. Stone made tomb monuments spread in Romanesque period.

However, the style and quality has decreased in this era. This was due to war and marauding in Europe and almost all part of the word. The economic and educational downfall happened and this was a big sad back to the portrait painting and work of portrait artists as well.

Although portraits in applied form was somehow produced. While war was on the board, the monasteries were the safest place and monks were the actual guard of the western portrait paintings.

Due to the religious reason, monasteries were less attacking areas and somehow safe place to conservation and development of art.

Monks not only did hard work to safe these portraits but also kept written techniques in safe custody for the next generation of portrait artists.

Middle Era of Art and Portrait Artists 1000 to 1400 AD.

Middle era was somehow good for portrait art and portrait artists. Most of portraits were gifted or made for riches, emperor and high class people.  Portrait artists used to make depicted on special orders.  The main painting medium of that time was panel painting.

Some literal reference disseminated the evidence of panel portrait from the centuries between late antiquity and the Romanesque period.  In the 12th century there was a great revival for panel painting because of liturgical practices.

Maximum portraits were done on religious subjects, like Christ, virgin. Like donor portraits including members of the donor’s family.  Portrait artists tried to depict the main subject next to their God or saint like Jesus or Maria.

One of the best example among these type of portrait painting is “Wilton Diptych”  which is now a part of national art gallery in London.  In this portrait we can see king Richard (II) is kneeling in front of the Virgin and child.

The portrait shows that patron (saint John the Baptist) of King Richard (II) is standing  just behind him and introducing the King to Mary and Jesus.

Portrait Artist Between 1000 to 1400 AD.

Portrait painting was in quite good stage during this era. Most of the artist used to make portrait painting as their carrier option.

There are numerous of  names on the board of portraiture. However some great portrait painters of this time was  Mestro guglielmo , Duccio di buoninsegna, Bonaventura berlinghieri,  Ferrer bassa, Jacopo del casentino, Allegretto nuzi, Giottino, Puccio capanna, Alticherero, Giusto de menabuoi, Theodoric of prague, Nino pisano, Arnau bassa.

Portrait Painting Renaissance period.

 Renaissance period was the actual transforming time, when not only art, culture, academia but also every sector became witness of the great changes. Started from Italy, it widened over across the Europe, subsequently covered the entire word.

Infect Portraiture, Portrait painting and portrait artists was leader themes to this change.  Although a per-renaissance, Florentine Artist “Giotto” was the first artist who started making these changes.

However, renaissance portrait artists from later on followed it across the world and went through new techniques, mediums, and class as well.

Style of human portraiture, decorative art and business with these form of arts entered in new era. Consequently, portraiture with the help of the techniques from ancient Rome and Greece touched new heights.

Great Portrait artists of the time like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo placed new marks.

Renaissance portrait painting mostly depicted religious figures, such as portraits of Madonna and Vergin Mary. Artist used to make portrait painting as per demand they received from their costumer.

Community of renaissance era was quite religious and they used to use portraits of God for religious rituals. Even though today we consider these artworks as great legacy, but at that time they were only religious objects.

Professionalism in Portraiture.

Although there were classes and category of both portrait artists and art patrons, yet establishing as an artist was not so easy for new comers. Before getting admittance as an artist, they had to study as apprentices under any notable and professional portrait artists.

Most of portrait painter started their work as a commissioned artist and became professional and distinguished portrait artist after a long practicing time. New rising class of Italy and Europe helped them to nurture.

Middle class people craved to imitate the upper crust and lift up their own status by purchasing art from these newcomer portrait artists. Consequently, portrait painting became the symbol of aristocracy.

In addition to religious art painting, self-portraits, custom portraits of man and woman this trend was also responsible to cultivate the portraiture in renaissance period.

Portrait Artists of Renaissance Period

Raphael, Leonardo da vinci, titian, Michelangelo, sandro borricelli,Giorgio Vasari, jan van eyck, paolo varonese, Parmigianino etc. was the great portrait artist of renaissance period.

Portrature and Painting in 19TH century.

portrait artists kept improving their work style according to demand from the society. Artists used lights or shades to show texture and roundness of faces and limbs.

Portrait artist during the starting stage of 19th century made their portrait painting actively by inspiring from leaders, beautiful women and on different agitated subjects of that time.

French portrait painter demonstrated virtuosity with grate technique. An artist “Eugene Delacroix” painted great collection of portraits of dashing equestrian. Poland was also a big witness of romantic portrait art

A Spanish portrait artist Francisco de goya made some provocative artwork like “La maja desnuda (1797- 1800)” and illustrious court portraits of Charles (IV).

Some big portrait artists in 19th century also made objective arts, depicting ordinary class of that time. Renewed portrait artist “Coutbet” created  self- portraits in different mood, expressions and style, especially in romanticism.

Modern portraiture, Artists and Artwork.

In modern time we are witnessing a variety of portrait art and great portrait artists in different style .Technology is also playing a big role in the development of portraiture.

Time is changing continuously and portrait artists are also changing accordingly. Demand is also unexpectedly increasing. In our era, there are many distinguish name alive in planet. Some Modern venture like Picpainter in the area of portrait painting are really doing well.

By Howhelper

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