From ArticleWorld

A portrait is the artistic representation of a person as a painting or photograph. Often in the form of a head or mug shot, a portrait shows the fundamental appearance of the person and in addition, some personality and character traits. The word portrait also has other meanings such as in literature, where portrait means a written description of a person or an object. In terms of printing, the word portrait (mode) refers to the position of paper or other object, with a vertical axis, in opposition to a horizontal axis which is called landscape mode.


Early Roman sculptures show the immense popularity of portraiture, a time period where people requested portraits that accurately and realistically showed their features and traits. In the dry desert area of the Fayum district of Egypt, funeral portraits predominated. Current excavations have revealed both these portraits as well as the frescoes in Rome. Disappearing as a popular art form in the 4th century, portraiture returned in the late Middle Ages in Europe, gaining a lot of attention in the public eye.

One of the most well known portraits in the world for its mysterious allure, is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The arrival of the daguerrotype in the nineteenth century brought along an expansion in portraiture, with popular demands for inexpensive portraits. Seated against a plain background with gentle soft lighting and reflection via mirrors, photographers would take quick 30 second photographs of their subjects. Flourishing in modern times, portrait photography is a popular form of photography, with family portraits being the predominant choice. Portraits are also frequently taken of political leaders. Government buildings always have large photographs and paintings of heads of state.


A self-portrait is a portrait created by the artist of him or herself. Self-portraits have been popular since the beginning of human art forms. The earliest known self-portrait is the sculpture of Bak and his wife in Egypt by the sculptor Bak c.1365 B.C. The first self-portrait in paint that has been discovered, was created by Jean Fouquet in France in c. 1450. One of the most famous self-portraits was done by the famous eccentric painter Vincent Van Gogh, who cut off his own ear.