Portraits through the ages.

This nice little montage takes us from the Renaissance through early Modernism.
I came across the inevitalbe misguided comments such as “women via the male gaze” ie idealized beauty; and “never head on!”
Let’s please all remember that many of these images are commissioned portraits (commissioned portraits were the bread & butter of most artists), and some few are painted by women. Reading them through a shrill politicized lens denies the merits of the work and the intent of the sitter as well as the artist. They represent an educated upper echelon of society that is concerned with culture, and how that culture wants to view itself and think of humanity in general- ie humanity and the individual as a worthwhile endeavor.
A painted portrait is much more than an image to politicize- it is an investigation of an individual and an era. And yes, they show beauty (in male figures and portraits as well), as this was an expectation of art, as was skill. A skilled artist knows that a 3/4 portrait allows subtlety of expression in capturing volumes of the face as well as clean edges, it is also the most technically complicated view for the painter. A “head on” portrait flattens the face, so too a profile, which is always unfamiliar to the sitter as they never see themselves in profile.

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