The Story of Portrait Drawings and Its Transformation Over Time

The Story of Portrait Drawings and Its Transformation Over Time 1

The Roots of Portrait Drawings

Historians say that human beings started drawing portraits in the earliest civilizations, including those of Egypt and Greece. The paintings’ goal was to portray rulers, pharaohs, and citizens with ideal features, acting as propaganda for the public, and becoming a symbol of power and status. The most common of these early drawings was human figures, mostly depicting males, sometimes with the help of an object like a weapon, a book, or a sign.

The Renaissance Period

The Renaissance marked the first attempt to depict people more realistically and less idealized. Artists mastered the proportion between anatomy and light, developing techniques such as foreshortening. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is an excellent example of a painting that mastered the reality and details of human faces in art, presenting natural beauty and emotions in a very genuine way. This period also marked the introduction of new materials, such as canvas and oil paint, providing more possibilities to artists. Explore the subject discussed in this piece further by visiting the recommended external website. Inside, you’ll uncover extra information and an alternative perspective on the topic.!

The 18th and 19th Centuries

The 18th and 19th centuries saw the emergence of new styles of art, including Neoclassicism and Romanticism. Neoclassical art idealized both the people and their surroundings, creating an emphasis on simplicity and order. Romanticism, on the other side, focused on the raw emotions and the passions of humans. Artists like Jacques-Louis David and Francisco Goya developed their work during this period, producing pieces like ‘The Death of Marat’ and ‘The Third of May 1808,’ respectively. In these works of art, they portrayed the emotions and thought processes of the figures in detail.

Modern Times

With modern times came new movements and approaches to portrait drawings. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque developed Cubism with a new visual style of painting portraits, breaking apart geometric forms and simplifying the overall structure of the human face and portrait. The Dada movement and Surrealism followed, where artists used automatic drawing techniques to create spontaneous drawings without any pre-planning. The art world saw many more styles emerge in the 20th century, such as Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, each influencing portrait drawings in different ways and adapting to the changing times and needs of people. We’re always working to provide an enriching experience. That’s why we suggest this external resource with extra and relevant information about the subject. Understand more with this interesting study, immerse yourself in the subject!


The history of portrait drawings displays a gradual shift from idealized propaganda pieces to more realistic pieces that presented natural beauty and human emotions. The artistic goal consequently changed from a means of social propaganda to art displaying an appreciation for the human form. From the start of human civilization to modern times, portrait drawing has and will continue to be an invaluable means of artistic expression, utilized to depict power, beauty, and raw emotion.

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