Portrait Project Research

por-trait [pohr-treyt]

1. A likeness of a person, especially of the face, as a painting, drawing or photograph.

2. A verbal picture or description, usually of a person.

“I paint people, not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.” – Lucien Freud

Portrait Artists

Lucien Freud – Painter, Andy Warhol – Painter, Henri Matisse – Painter, Rembrandt – Painter, Jan Vermeer – Painter, Thomas Gainsborough – Painter, Vincent van Gogh – Painter, Pablo Picasso – Painter, Francis Bacon -Painter

Donatello – Sculptor, Rodin – Sculptor, Anthony Gormley – Sculptor, Michelangelo – Sculptor

Steve McCurry – Photographer, Annie Leibovitz – Photographer, Cecil Beaton – Photographer, David Bailey – Photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson – Photographer


A portrait is an artistic representation of someone where the intent is to display the likeness, personality or mood. It often shows the subject looking directly at the viewer in order to most successfully engage the audience.

Portrait Sculpture

Roman Sculpture

The art of the portrait flourished in Roman Sculpture, where sitters demanded realism even to the point of being unflattering. During the 4th Century the portrait became more idealised. In Europe, true likeness portraits began to re-emerge in the middle ages.

Self Portrait

When an artist creates a portrait of him/herself

Examples became numerous in the late middle ages but the earliest example is likely to be by Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten’s sculptor Bak. However it seems likely that self-portraits go back to the earliest representational art.

Vincent van Gogh Self Portrait

Portrait Photography

James Dean Portrait Photograph

Since early photography people have made portraits, and there has been a demand for inexpensive portraiture. In the 19th Century studios began to appear in city’s around the world. Sometime during the early 20th Century photography replaced more traditional painting as the most common form of portraiture, due to the speed of the process, the relative ease and the lower costs. In the 21st Century the rise of social networking websites such as facebook have caused a rise in quick, digital photographs that can be uploaded and ‘shared’ with friends.

Political Portraits

Portraits of leaders are often used as a symbol of the state. In most countries it is common for the portrait of the head of state to appear on government buildings, stamps and coins. The excessive use of such a portrait can be indicative of a personality cult. This was seen in Russia in the middle of the 20th Century with Josef Stalin.

Political Portrait of Josef Stalin

Written Portrait

A written description or analysis of a person or thing, often giving deep insight and an analysis that goes beyond the superficial. An example of this is Patricia Cornwell’s book ‘Portrait of a Killer‘ which looks at the personality, backgrounds and possible motivations of Jack the Ripper.


-BP Portrait Award 2009

The very best in contemporary portrait painting compete for a first prize of £25,000. The exhibition has launched the careers of a number of successful portrait artists.

This year the exhibition presented 56 portraits selected from 1,900 entries.

Lady Sainsbury of Preston Candover (formerly Anyaya Linden, Ballerina), by Eileen Hogan – Three part study of subject in slightly altered positions and lighting. The series of paintings starts to imply a movement through life rather the focus being on a single instant.

Black Mirror, by David Nipo – The dark palette removes some of the recognizable image, placing more emphasis on the emotions and feelings of the subject.

John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood, by Karl Rudziak – The portrait is hyper realistic and shows obvious ability, yet more importantly it captures a character of not only the individual but also by extension, a larger community of people.


I want to avoid a hyper realistic or photographic likeness of someone and focus more on capturing a personality and character – ‘More than meets the eye.’

Photo-collage, Caricature, screen print, typography, mixed illustration

I like the idea of the portrait being of someone, but for somebody else’s purpose, therefore making the capture of personality essential. Maybe a portrait of someone for somebody who will miss them.


Cubee’s are free to download paper toys. They do not require glue or tape, just scissors or a craft knife, and can be printed on a single sheet of A4 paper. On the website there are lots of different designs from the creator as well as lots of designs from other people. There are designs of original characters and also ‘fan-art’ of various cartoons, video games and films.

A Cubee Net for the Character ‘Kakula’

Here is another paper toy, this time to build a Barack Obama.

I like the idea of building someone and that you could possess a memento of someone else in this way, but why would you want to own something like this? It might be something to do with someone you admire or idolise. A public hero such as Obama is very iconic at the moment and inspires a lot of merchandise with his image. Someone may wish to have a toy like the one above as a celebration of him. Another reason maybe as a memento of someone you love, almost like a photograph. There could be various reasons why you might miss someone. It might be a deceased relative or someone who has gone away. The idea of representing them as a toy, as opposed to the traditional photo, would be that the fun of a toy may better represent their character or how you feel about them. The toy idea may remind parents of children that have gone to university, and although they have grown up their mum/dad will always think of them as kids.