What is a Portrait?

What is a Portrait notes:

  • It depicts a person
  • Captures the ‘essence’
  • Can represent a person
  • Can be staged or not (natural)
  • Doesn’t have to be a person, for example it could be an animal, or a tree

Historically portraits were commissions for two reasons: 1.) form of identity.  2.)A remembrance/memory.

Interesting information: A portrait can be described as utilitarian art, this means to be practical and useful… a tool in a sense. For example we have a portrait of ourselves in our passports which is used as a tool of identification.

A thought that came into discussion in this seminar which interested me; “Why do we smile in photographs?” The answer may be because we know that the photograph will live on as a static piece of evidence and it could be seen by many people. Maybe we just want to look our happiest as we know the photograph will be looked at many times. Or maybe many people ask for smiles in photographs as they believe that is when we look our best (cheesy)- when we are smiling.

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