which painting school became famous for its life size portraits made in realistic style
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See portrait for more about the general topic of portraits.
Self-portrait of Nicolas Régnier painting a portrait of Vincenzo Giustiniani, 1623–24, Fogg Art Museum.Portrait Painting is a genre in painting, where the intent is to represent a specific human subject. The term 'portrait painting' can also describe the actual painted portrait. Portraitists may create their work by commission, for public and private persons, or they may be inspired by admiration or affection for the subject. Portraits often serve as important state and family records, as well as remembrances.
Historically, portrait paintings have primarily memorialized the rich and powerful. Over time, however, it became more common for middle-class patrons to commission portraits of their families and colleagues. Today, portrait paintings are still commissioned by governments, corporations, groups, clubs, and individuals. In addition to painting, portraits can also be made in other media such as prints (including etching and lithography), photography, video and digital media.
Frans Hals, later finished by Pieter Codde. . 1637. Oil on canvas, 209 × 429 cm. Group portraits were important in Dutch Golden Age painting
It might seem obvious that a painted portrait is intended to achieve a likeness of the sitter that is recognisable to those who have seen them, and ideally is a very good record of their appearance. In fact this concept has been slow to grow, and it took centuries for artists in different traditions to acquire the distinct skills for painting a good likeness.
Technique and practice
Anthony van Dyck, , 1635–1636, shows profile, full face and three-quarter views, to send to Bernini in Rome, who was to sculpt a bust from this model.
A well-executed portrait is expected to show the inner essence of the subject (from the artist's point of view) or a flattering representation, not just a literal likeness. As Aristotle stated, "The aim of Art is to present not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance; for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality." Artists may strive for photographic realism or an impressionistic similarity in depicting their subject, but this differs from a caricature which attempts to reveal character through exaggeration of physical features. The artist generally attempts a representative portrayal, as Edward Burne-Jones stated, "The only expression allowable in great portraiture is the expression of character and moral quality, not anything temporary, fleeting, or accidental."
In most cases, this results in a serious, closed lip stare, with anything beyond a slight smile being rather rare historically. Or as Charles Dickens put it, "there are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk." Even given these limitations, a full range of subtle emotions is possible from quiet menace to gentle contentment. However, with the mouth relatively neutral, much of the facial expression needs to be created through the eyes and eyebrows. As author and artist Gordon C. Aymar states, "the eyes are the place one looks for the most complete, reliable, and pertinent information" about the subject. And the eyebrows can register, "almost single-handedly, wonder, pity, fright, pain, cynicism, concentration, wistfulness, displeasure, and expectation, in infinite variations and combinations."
Portrait painting can depict the subject "full-length" (the whole body), "half-length" (from head to waist or hips), "head and shoulders" (bust), or just the head. The subject's head may turn from "full face" (front view) to profile view (side view); a "three-quarter view" ("two-thirds view") is somewhere in between, ranging from almost frontal to almost profile (the fraction is the sum of the profile [one-half of the face] plus the other side's "quarter-face"; alternatively, it is quantified 2⁄3, also meaning this partial view is more than half a face). Occasionally, artists have created composites with views from multiple directions, as with Anthony van Dyck's triple portrait of . There are even a few portraits where the front of the subject is not visible at all. Andrew Wyeth's (1948) is a famous example, where the pose of the disabled woman – with her back turned to the viewer – integrates with the setting in which she is placed to convey the artist's interpretation.
Changing World of Visual Arts Class 8 History
Read about new forms of imperial art and history of painting from chapter changing world of visual arts class 8 history
World of Visual Arts
World of Visual Arts Table of Contents
New Forms of Imperial Art
Portraits of Authority
Fate of Court Artists
New Forms of Imperial Art
From the eighteenth century various European artists came to India, along with the British traders and rulers. They brought with them the idea of realism.
Realism meant that the artist had to depict everything like real life. This was possible with the use of oil painting with which the contemporary Indian artists were not familiar. The use of oil paint made it possible for the artist to make images which looked real.Looking for the picturesque: Picturesque landscape painting was one of the popular traditions of the European painters. In those paintings, India was depicted as a quaint land. Its landscape was shown as rugged and wild; which was yet to be tamed by human hands.The Daniells: Thomas Daniell and his nephew William Daniell were the most famous of the visiting landscape painters. They came to India in 1785 and stayed for seven years. They travelled to northern and southern India. They produced some of the most evocative landscapes of India. Their large oil paintings on canvas were regularly exhibited in Britain and their albums of engravings were quickly bought up by the British public. The public was always eager to know about Britain’s empire.
Portraits of authority
Portrait painting was another popular art form in colonial India. The rich and the powerful (both British and Indian), wanted their portrait on canvas. While the traditional Indian artists made miniature portraits, the European painters made large and lifelike portraits. The person who commissioned these paintings tried to project his importance by the size of the painting.
Johan Zoffany was the most famous of the visiting European painters of portraits. He was a German who migrated to England and came to India in the 1780s for five years.
The portraits of British officials project a lavish lifestyle. The Indians are always shown in the shadow; as submissive people in these portraits.
Many Indian nawabs also commissioned huge oil portraits by European painters. For them, this was the only way to show their power because they already had lost their authority to the colonial power. Moreover, this was one of the various ways in which a nawab could imitate the lifestyle of the British.
History painting was another category of imperial art. Various episodes of British imperial history were projected dramatically through such paintings. Such paintings enjoyed great prestige among the British public as they showcase the British power. These painters took firsthand accounts of travelers to make initial sketches for such paintings.
Imperial history paintings were an attempt to create a public memory of imperial triumphs. Victory was a thing which should be implanted in public memory; both Indian and British. Such paintings were used as tools to showcase the British as invincible and all powerful.
What Happened to the Court Artists?
This was also the period when the artists who used to work in the courts of various kings saw a change in their life and fortune. Some of them continued to paint in the traditional style of miniature paintings and mural painting. For example; Tipu Sultan always resisted the cultural traditions associated with the British. Hence, he gave patronage to various court painters. His palace at Seringapatam was covered with murals done by local artists.
A different trend can be seen in the court of Murshidabad. We should recall that the British had installed their puppet nawabs in Murshidabad. Hence, the court at Murshidabad encouraged local artists to absorb the British artistic style. The local artists at the court of Murshidabad began to use perspective and light and shadow in their paintings.
Some of the local painters were not so lucky. They lost their influence and wealth because of lack of patrons. They turned to the British. Many British officials wanted to collect the depiction of India as done by the local artists. A vast number of images of local plants and animals, historical buildings and monuments, festivals and processions, trade and crafts, castes and communities, etc. can be found to be painted by local artists. These pictures are usually referred to as Company paintings.
History of Visual Arts
New Popular Visual Arts
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Chuck Close, in full Chuck Thomas Close, (born July 5, 1940, Monroe, Washington, U.S.—died August 19, 2021, Oceanside, New York), American artist noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face. He is best known for his large-scale Photo-realist portraits. Close began taking art lessons as a child and at age 14 saw an exhibition of Jackson Pollock’s abstract paintings, which helped inspire him to become a painter. He studied at the University of Washington School of Art (B.A., 1962) and at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture (B.F.A., 1963; M.F.A., 1964), and in 1964
Alternate titles: super-realism
Written by Lisa S. Wainwright
Fact-checked by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
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Related Topics: history of photography art
See all related content →Photo-realism, also called Super-realism, American art movement that began in the 1960s, taking photography as its inspiration. Photo-realist painters created highly illusionistic images that referred not to nature but to the reproduced image. Artists such as Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Audrey Flack, Robert Bechtle, and Chuck Close attempted to reproduce what the camera could record. Several sculptors, including the Americans Duane Hanson and John De Andrea, were also associated with this movement. Like the painters, who relied on photographs, the sculptors cast from live models and thereby achieved a simulated reality.
Photo-realism grew out of the Pop and Minimalism movements that preceded it. Like Pop artists, the Photo-realists were interested in breaking down hierarchies of appropriate subject matter by including everyday scenes of commercial life—cars, shops, and signage, for example. Also like them, the Photo-realists drew from advertising and commercial imagery. The Photo-realists’ use of an industrial or mechanical technique such as photography as the foundation for their work in order to create a detached and impersonal effect also had an affinity with both Pop and Minimalism. Yet many saw Photo-realism’s revival of illusionism as a challenge to the pared-down Minimalist aesthetic, and many perceived the movement as an attack on the important gains that had been made by modern abstract painting.
Photo-realists typically projected a photographed image onto a canvas and then used an airbrush to reproduce the effect of a photo printed on glossy paper. Estes claimed that the idea of the painting was involved primarily with the photograph and that the painting was just the technique of finishing it up. He chose to disguise the painterliness of his New York street scenes with the look of photography. Goings and Bechtle also sought to capture a crisp veneer by using an airbrush technique in their many images of the pervasive American car culture. Flack projected slides of opulent still-life arrangements onto canvases to be painted, thus updating the 17th-century theme of vanitas and reminding viewers of the fleeting nature of material things. Close systematically transformed photographs of his friends into giant frontal portraits, initially in black-and-white and then in colour beginning in 1970. He first put down a light pencil grid for scaling up the photograph and then sketched in the image with the airbrush; he finished the image by painting in the details.
Lisa S. Wainwright The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
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