Portrait painting. Horatio once said: A picture is a poem without words . Really, a painting can speak loudly than thousand words. A painting is the most effective exhibition of one’s idea about a particular concept or material. A great painting enriches our experience of life, just as a great poem does, since great painters make us see and think a great deal more than the objects before us, they teach us to look at a scene through their eyes, their imagination. It can explain a story which will take several pages if it is explained in words. Today I’d like to draw your attention to portrait painting.
At first, I’m to present the definition of this genre of painting, than I’m to speak on three artists William Hogarth, Mary Cassat and Valentin Serov as the representatives of three different movements in portrait painting. As Britannica says Portrait painting is a genre of painting, where the intent is to depict the visual appearance of the subject. Beside human beings, animals, pets and even inanimate objects can be chosen as the subject for a portrait. Portraitists create their work by commission, or are inspired by admiration or affection for the subject.
Historically, portrait paintings have primarily memorialized the rich and powerful. Today, the portrait painting is still commissioned by governments, corporations, groups, clubs, and individuals. As you can know there are a lot of movements in painting in general and in portrait painting in particular. They range from realism to pop-art, but I’m to single out realism, impressionism and modernism. The movement of realism is based on the exact reflection of human face and body. Clear and exact lines, realistic colours are typical of it. The representative of this movement is William Hogarth.
He is considered even one of the founders of realistic movement in Britain. Hogarth emerged as an important portraitist, producing several impressive small-scale informal group portraits of members of a family or friends and a number of sensitive portraits of individual sitters. The example of realistic style is expressed in the painting The Shrimp Girl. It was painted around 1740–45. The painting, a relatively late work by Hogarth, is one of several in which he experimented with a loose, almost impressionistic style, nevertheless even in this portrait the painter tried to find the beauty in real life and its reflection.
The painting depicts a woman selling shellfish on the streets of London, typically a job for the wives and daughters of fishmongers. One of the brightest movements of portrait painting is impressionism, characterized by loose and broad strokes, diffused lines and even the distortion of human body. The wonderful representative is Mary Cassatt. She was a wonderful American painter and her place in the history of American art is unique, because she responded in a very distinctive way to the mandate to portray modern life.
Cassatt created a personal language out of the grammar of Impressionism. Most often, she portrayed women like herself, e. g. Miss Mary Ellison is the second of two portraits of Mary Ellison, which was created in 1880. Cassatt there concentrates on Miss Ellison’s contemplative mood. In this painting, Cassatt’s brushwork is open and sketchy, colours are soft and even merge. The mirror behind Ellison is a device the artist used often; its presence allows the expansion of the composition’s implied space to include areas that the viewer could not otherwise see.
The last movement I’d like to mention is modernism. It appeared on the basis of impressionism, and even if strokes are broad and strong, lines are clear and human face and body are reflected almost exactly. In general, modernists embellish (?????????????) the image. Valentin Serov is a famous representative if the movement. In fact, in his style of painting there was his classical technique when one precise stroke of brush was applied without further reworking. Serov is seen as the first Russian modernist, and his composition Girl with Peaches(1887) initiated the style of Russia.
In the painting Serov pieces together fragments of the interior scene and still-life. The light pours in through the window and dissolves the contours of the objects. Serov uses warm tones for the girl which in some way contrasts with the colder tones of the space. The girl is painted almost exactly in clear lines and good proportions. To conclude the topic I’d like to say that different movements in portrait painting are the result of painters’ views on art, painting. Their style always reflects their epoch and predominant movements in other spheres. But paintings in any genre excite and impress.
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