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Famous Victorian Portraits

Victorian Portraits: Portraiture has always been one of the most important art forms, at least till the time photography gained popularity. The portrait miniature, or miniatures first came into existence to decorate the books written by hand.

History of Portraits

The word ‘miniature’ had been derived from the Latin word ‘Miniare’ which means coloration by red lead. However, hand-written books started being replaced with the printed books.

The miniaturists started to illustrate the expensive books. However, the also started to offer independent miniatures for private worship or other desirable objects.

Victorian Portraits
Female Portrait

The first portrait miniatures had appeared in the 1520s at the English and French courts. These objects were portable and also had a realistic color.

Famous Victorian Portraits

The portraits became useful to the monarchy as they were small enough to be presented. They could even be offered publicly. The British artists started to paint on ivory at a point in time. Miniature painting grew into a form of elegant pastime. Most of the miniaturists had no professional training until the 1760s.

Victorian Portraits
Ingres Portrait of Monsieur Bertin

Most artists did not grow into full-time miniaturists. The Royal Academy of Arts was established in 1768 by a group of artists based in London. They would display the large oil paintings in their annual exhibitions.

Victorian Portraits Photography

The growth of national wealth is one of the major reasons why the market for portraiture changed gradually. Many young artists started to follow the career of miniature painting which offered the clients to have the keepsakes of their beloved.

With the gradual introduction of photography, a wider public could afford accurate likeness. Many miniaturists started taking up photography as a career and most young artists stopped taking portraiture as a career.

No one smiled or laughed

In the early days, no one laughed in the portraits. This was mostly because laughing was not considered to be a common courtesy in those days.

Victorian Portraits
Freeman_George_ painted Queen Victoria_1841

Only the stage performers would flash their teeth. People did not want them to be remembered as foolish characters, who would be flushing a silly smile.

How were the Portrait paintings influenced?

The portrait art of the nineteenth century included a lot of different styles, each of which reflected a part of the culture of that period. Romanticism was the style that did liberate the old-fashioned values of the Academic period

And brought the new styles of the Industrial Revolution and the effect of the rural communities. Some outstanding portraits were produced by the Impressionist painters of this period. The style of this period stood mostly for self-expression.

Victorian Portraits

It also favored an emotional, dramatic and heroic style. The brush strokes were light and vigorous. Most of the content would be based on inspirational ideas.

Portraits of different subjects and personalities were produced during the period. While some in France were even created of mental patients, those created in England mostly depicted people in daily life.

Famous Victorian Portraits

The realist artists gained popularity as well. They were famous for producing the portraits of ordinary people in undramatic settings. They used a restricted and subtle palette. The colors were quite undramatic.

There were even those who focused on rural life. Some of the painters were greatly involved in caricature art and created numerous portraits. They started to master the technique of facial expressions. The subjects included people from parts of the society – from Dukes to writers and peasants.

The Acamdeic portraiture gained a lot of importance as well. A literal or direct representation that favored suggestions and inference would be rejected by the symbolic painters. It was a forerunner of expressionism.

Famous Romanticism Portraits

The Portrait of a Kleptomaniac (1819) and Portrait of a Woman Addicted to Gambling (1822) by Theodore Gericault was quite interesting Dante Gabriel Rossetti contributed to works like Proserpine (1882) and Lady Lillith (1868)

Famous Victorian Portraits: Realism Portraits

James McNeill Whistler offered one of the great paintings –   Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother (1871)

Gustave Courbet offered The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory (1855)

The Sower (1850) and Man with a Hoe (1862) were created by Jean-Francois Millet

Academic Portraits during the Victorian era

J.A.D. Ingres painted the Portrait of Monsieur Bertin (1832) and the Portrait of Madame Moitessier (1856)

The Bellelli Family (1858-67) was created by Edgar Degas

John Singer Sargent designed The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and the Portrait of Madame X

Famous Victorian Impressionism Portraits

Auguste Renoir drew Young Boy with a Cat (1868) and La Loge (1874)

A woman in a Green Dress (1866) was the amazing creation of Claude Monet

Valenti Serov contributed with the Girl with Peaches (1887)

Famous Victorian  Post-Impressionism Portraits

Boy in a Red Waistcoat (1890) by Paun Cezanne

Vincent van Gogh painted the Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890)