What is a Portrait Painting?

Portrait painting

The amazing thing about art is it’s subjective to the artist and each individual viewer. We may both view a painting and see something different. It can affect our emotions differently, and we may have varying opinions on its greatness. It’s no surprise that countless types of painting styles and techniques have been developed over hundreds of years, depicting a variety of subjects, appealing to the likes of us all.

Landscapes, surrealism, and abstract paintings all have a place in art history, but portrait paintings have paved the way. As one of the most popular genres of painting, portraiture artists throughout time have portrayed emotion and personality through facial expressions and body language. Focusing on the representation of people, portraits continue to be prevalent today, with the ever-popular “selfie” being a staple in society.


The History of Portrait Paintings

Before the invention of photography, we used many other art forms to capture the human essence. We have included ourselves and others in artwork for as long as humankind has created art, no matter what form. Hieroglyphs, carvings, and momentous statues were all created to remember important individuals and events throughout time. However, the introduction of portrait paintings revolutionized the world of art culture.

Famous Portraits

Portrait paintings capture a moment in time, allowing us to take a glimpse into past cultures. Separated by a variety of social and cultural differences, each time period can be depicted by the work of talented artists from around the globe. There is no better way to reflect on portrait paintings’ history than by revisiting some significant pieces.

Middle Ages and Renaissance Era

Illustrating religious figures and deities in the middle ages, portraiture became extremely popular, often created for those of wealth and power. With religion being a strong cultural focus into the renaissance era, it continued to be a prominent subject of portrait paintings. Referred to as the High Renaissance, renowned artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo all produced infamous religious and faith-based portraits during this time. “The Last Supper” and the “Mona Lisa” are two of the most famous portrait paintings created by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Baroque and Rococo

Although religious art was still in high demand, portraits created during the 16th and 17th centuries were more focused on social status. Royal couples and families had group portraits commissioned, illustrating their wealth with clothing, or depicting them as gods. However, a slow shift was made from these strong authoritative images to more light-hearted portraits, such as The Swing painted by Jean-Honoré.

19th and 20th Century Portraits

This is where the art of portraiture really took off! Realism was predominant in portrait paintings up until this point, but impressionism, symbolism, surrealism, and pop art became more popular. As art became available to different social statuses, more people experimented with their artistic talents, offering a variety of new techniques and styles. Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol have all created portrait paintings, each with their own specific characteristics. For instance, the styles are quite different between Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait”, created in 1887, and Warhol’s “Self-Portrait” from 1986.

21st Century and Beyond

As our individuality is gradually more celebrated, artists have continued to express themselves freely through painting the human experience. Creativity through different painting styles has caused a rippling effect, with many artists dabbling in a variety of mediums. From the pristine hyper-realistic oil paintings by Yasutomo Oka, to the robust colors and naturalistic settings by Kehinde Wiley, it’s clear that portraiture has become as vast and unique as artists have.


Personalized Portraits

With so much support offered in the art community, artists have stemmed from all walks of life, offering unique renditions and techniques of their own. Hand-painted art is no longer a commodity that’s out-of-reach to the everyday person. Although we now have technology at our fingertips, with the ability to take countless selfies in mere seconds, a deep appreciation for personalized art still exists. Many people have portrait paintings commissioned, whether it’s to commemorate a significant period in their life, in memory of a loved one, or of a favorite idol.

With technology readily available, we are able to have custom portraits created from any photos we like. Old photos of passed family members can be combined with current photos of children, creating a custom portrait that will touch the hearts of your loved ones. You can combine a collection of pictures, of each of your pets perhaps, and put them all into a beutiful group portrait. The possibilies of personalized portraits are limitless, and expanding everyday!

How To Have A Portrait Painted

Technology has enhanced our ability to access products and services from around the world, including art and portrait paintings. Self-made artists can be found through search engines with a few clicks, from their own established websites, or within marketplace communities. There are three important things to consider when deciding to have a portrait painted.

  1. Artist: Finding the right artist to recreate your portrait painting idea is vital to ensuring they capture your loved ones’ essence. There are many avenues to take, including working with a specialist, connecting you to professional artists.
  2. Medium: Artists often specialize in specific mediums, such as watercolor, oil, or acrylic paints, each offering their own benefits. For instance, oil paint offers more vibrant pigments, while acrylics are known to be more resilient over time, however, they each offer a unique finished texture.
  3. Budget: Portrait paintings can range in price depending on the quality of work, the success of the artist, the medium they use, and of course the size of the painting. A custom portrait painting from an experienced artist can range from $100 to upwards of $20,000.


Paintings Right From Your Camera-Roll 

Luckily with specialized services like Artwish.co, you can consider all three of these important aspects quickly and easily. Working with professional art studios from around the world, we have streamlined the process of finding the perfect artist by taking care of it for you. Plus, you don’t have to schedule a time to sit still awkwardly with your family, just upload your favorite digital pictures from your laptop or straight from your smartphone camera-roll!

With artists ready to recreate your portrait painting idea, all you have to do is:

  1. Choose the number of people, up to 5 people
  2. Select the size of your portrait’s canvas
  3. Choose between rolled, framed, or gallery wrapped
  4. Upload your favorite photo and ArtWish will take care of the rest!


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