Renaissance Portraits

Coming back from a feedback session with Dom, I felt it helped me a great deal in terms of where to head next with my research and the representation of men in history. The first place he suggested I look is portrait work, and I decided to look at the great and new movement of the 14th century which was Renaissance.

Looking for a good definition of what a portrait is came from the metmuseum “A portrait is typically defined as a representation of a specific individual, such as the artist might meet in life. A portrait does not merely record someone’s features, however, but says something about who he or she is, offering a vivid sense of a real person’s presence.”

Renaissance portraits seemed a good place to start as they are known for their representation of men. This style of art can be traced back to Italy in the early 14th century. The painter Giotto used his innovation thinking mind to create a new style in which how he represented people realistically within the potraits he was producing. The Catholic Church until this point had been a huge commisioner on art works, giving artists strict guidelines on how they could produce their work. There was a huge difference in the trade between Italy and Europe and Asia which produced great wealth and allowed merchants and bankers to buy these pieces of art work which allowed the artists more freedom with the current recognised theme, boasting their intelligence, soul and high morals.


Raphael (self portrait) 1518

The art movement looked at making their paintings more realistic than previous ones such as medieval artists, who produced very flat and decorative art. Instead, Renaissance artists focused on perspective, vanishing points, shadows and light with the intention to bring the audience’s eye to something important in the painting, emotion that they want the viewer to feel when looking at the painting and focusing on proportions and human form and realistic surroundings and emotion.

The Creation of Adam by Michelangenlo 1511

The movement was one of the first times in art history where people were able to afford and have the opportunity to own their own portraiture. This I find heavily relates to my video installation concept because my video allows normal people from normal backgrounds to expose their inhabitions to the world in a similar way that a portrait of any individual would be hung proudly in a 14th century househould. I see similarities in approach also to Renaissance painters with my intentions within my video to hide and disguise a persons imperfections, like a painter would exaggerate a persons features to make them seem more beautiful and hide all of their imperfections- providing a false sense of beauty.


Sorbella, J (2013) Portraiture in Renaissance and Baroque Europe [online] available from <; [18 March 2014]

Italian Renaissance Learning Resources (2013) Portraiture [online] available from <; [18 March 2014]

McKay B, McKay K (2010) The Basics of Art: The Renaissance [online] available from <; [18 March 2014]

History (2014) Renaissance Art [online] available from <; [18 March 2014]

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