PotD - Art Genres: Portrait


According to official Fine Art History education, there are five accepted “genres” or classifications of paintings as defined in the 17th Century – History, Portrait, Genre (everyday life), Landscape and Still Life. Each day this week Susan Omand picks a well known painting from one of these genres. Today she faces faces...

I’ve written quite a bit already about the relevance and symbolism of our second classification of Portraits, but I’ve not really said what classifies a painting as a portrait. A portrait of an individual may be face-only, or head and shoulders, or full-body. Academic portraiture is executed according to certain conventions, concerning dress, the position of hands and other details but portraits could also be styled into more active or natural settings to try and capture a certain aspect of the subject’s personality that they wanted to highlight, often involving sitting on horses or pensively reading depending on whether they want to be seen as heroic or cerebral.

Famous portraits include Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or this well-known portrait by Sir Henry Raeburn of The Skating Minister that was used as inspiration for the windows of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh.


Image - Wikimedia