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Quotes about Politics

Quotes about Portraiture


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167 art quotes about Portraiture found | Share this page of quotes about Portraiture on Facebook

There is a lot to be gained from painted portraits. A true portrait is fuller and richer than simply an image on a flat surface. (Sam Adoquei)

I shall praise those faces which seem to project out of the picture as though they were sculptured, and I shall censure those faces in which I see no art but that of outline. (Leon Battista Alberti)

With all the difficulties involved in painting, you still have to find a subject's thoughts and intellectual world. (Phan Ke An)

-b.1910 d.1988...
Suddenly - perhaps sensing my uneasiness - she began to talk casually in French. 'You know,' she said, 'when I was a child, I used to spend hours in this room looking out of the windows...' Her words were like a searchlight lighting my way. I saw her immediately as The Queen who, while dear to the hearts of millions of people whom she loved, was herself alone and far off. I knew then that was how I must show her. (Pietro Annigoni)

-b.1530 d.1609...
Again and again experience has proved that the more deeply versed an artist is in drawing, the less he is able to paint portraits. (Giovan Battista Armenini)

Get yourself a mirror and paint your own portrait, over and over. It's a great chance to experiment, you'll discover things about yourself, and you don't have to pay the model! (Susan Avishai)

Artists with the lack of proper education and experience of working from life will copy whatever is visible on the photograph, without knowing what's underneath. As a result, instead of creating the in-depth and full of character portrait, they draw a mask with no soul. (Igor Babailov)

I loathe my own face, and I've done self-portraits because I've had nobody else to do. (Francis Bacon)

If my people look as if they're in a dreadful fix, it's because I can't get them out of a technical dilemma. (Francis Bacon)

I paint German artists whom I admire. I paint their pictures, their work as painters, and their portraits too. But oddly enough, each of these portraits ends up as a picture of a woman with blonde hair. I myself have never been able to work out why this happens. (Georg Baselitz)

Nothing in a portrait is a matter of indifference. Gesture, grimace, clothing, decor even – all must combine to realize a character. (Charles Baudelaire)

It seems to be a law of nature that no man ever is loath to sit for his portrait. (Max Beerbohm)

I tell my customers, 'If it's a photographic likeness you want, you need to go to a photographer.' I've never had a customer walk away when I say these words. (Brenda Behr)

Self-portraiture is a singular in-turned art. Something eerie lurks in its fingering of the edge between seer and seen. (Julian Bell)

Self-portraiture is something one should never get involved in, since it is wrong to lie even though one endeavours to tell the truth. (Ingmar Bergman)

Clothes should not be allowed to take over the portrait. (Simone Bingemer)

This is a self-portrait of the upper right quadrant of the artist's left eye, which, when combined with the 347 other self-portraits, makes up the entire head of the artist. Sold as a set. (Bizarro)

A portrait, to be a work of art, neither must nor may resemble the sitter... one must paint its atmosphere. (Umberto Boccioni)

The general purpose of the portrait is to create some kind of monument to the sitter and transmit some kind of sympathy or understanding. A side effect is the communication of qualities less endearing. (Paul Brandford)

A good portrait ought to tell something of the subject's past and suggest something of his future. (Bill Brandt, photographer)

Sculpture and woodcarving of the human figure are the most expressive ways of immortalizing people... What can be seen from all directions reveals what is meant beyond the face value, the conscious expression. (Robert G. Breur)

A portrait can get awfully hot when the artist thinks in terms of flesh and blood, rosy cheeks, lips and ears. This is particularly so if there are cools surrounding the subject such as a blue curtain or blue shirt... don't forget that some of that cool might very well be bouncing into the face and figure. (Harley Brown)

-at age 13, at the Vatican Museum...
There must be a cave somewhere with all of the noses. (Nicholas Brown)

-The Note-Books of Samuel Butler,1912...
A great portrait is always more a portrait of the painter than of the painted. (Samuel Butler, novelist)

When I have had such men before my camera my whole soul has endeavored to do its duty towards them in recording faithfully the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man. The photograph thus taken has been almost the embodiment of a prayer. (Julia Margaret Cameron)

What I do in all my portraits is to try to stay out of it. I try to catch people the way they are. (Mark Carder)

Always be back at least 10 feet from the model, especially if you're doing full length. (Mark Carder)

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt. (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

-after 115 sittings for a portrait of Ambroise Vollard...
I am not altogether displeased with the shirt-front. (Paul Cezanne)

When I painted his portrait and offered it to him, he glanced at the canvas, then, looking at himself in the mirror, thought a moment and said: Well, no! Keep it! (Marc Chagall)

The first step in learning to paint flesh tones correctly is to understand the body. Rich colors usually appear wherever blood flows near the surface of the skin, while light and frequently cool colors tend to appear wherever the skin is stretched and seemingly without blood near the surface. (Steve Childs)

You have no idea what portrait painters suffer from the vanity of their sitters. (Sir Kenneth Clark)

I never paint a portrait from a photograph, because a photograph doesn't give enough information about what the person feels. (Francesco Clemente)

I discovered about 150 dots is the minimum number of dots to make a specific recognizable person. You can make something that looks like a head, with fewer dots, but you won't be able to give much information about who it is. (Chuck Close)

Painting someone's portrait is, of course, an impossible task. What an absurd idea to try and distil a human being, the most complex organism on the planet, into flicks, washes, and blobs of paint on a two-dimensional surface. (David Cobley)

The artist should struggle... to prevent his sitter from being bored. This is one of the great difficulties of portrait painting, and can in most cases be best met by encouraging the sitter to talk... (John Collier)

If the sitter will not talk, the next best plan is to get some one to read to him; but amused he must be at all costs, or the portrait will inevitably reflect the patient misery of the subject. (John Collier)

I have painted many portraits of people and I have painted many portraits of trees. Trees are more tranquil to work with, never demanding, never complaining their portrait doesn't look right. (Cosbie)

I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather does the subject grow to look like his portrait. (Salvador Dali)

Make portraits of people in typical, familiar poses, being sure above all to give their faces the same kind of expression as their bodies. (Edgar Degas)

An act of naming should quite rightly enable me to call any-thing a self-portrait, not only any drawing, 'portrait' or not, but everything that happens to me, that I can affect, or that affects me. (Jacques Derrida)

There are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk. (Charles Dickens)

You know, if one paints someone's portrait, one should not know him if possible. (Otto Dix)

...my sitters get tired waiting for commissioned portraits. If they commission me they have to wait years sometimes because I discard so many. (William Dobell)

I never wanted to be commissioned to paint portraits. I like to choose my own subject and make a character study from it. (William Dobell)

The real artist is striving to depict his subject's character and to stress the caricature, but at least it is art which is alive. (William Dobell)

My nose isn't big. I just happen to have a very small head. (Jimmy Durante)

A good form strikes all eyes pleasantly, long before they have any science on the subject; and a beautiful face sets twenty hearts in palpitation, prior to all consideration of the mechanical proportions of the features and head. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I don't have lots of things in the background. I do like large faces. I find them strong and contemporary. (Paul Emsley)

But eventually I moved the portraiture into the smaller clay things which gave them more of a caricature look to them, rather than a characterization. (Joe Fafard)

Listen: if I am a painter and I do your portrait, have I or haven't I the right to paint you as I want? (Oriana Fallaci)

Usually my first impressions of personalities and lifestyles stay with me and are the foundation on which I build my portraits. (Shari Ford)

I try to do as little coaching as possible, believing that the natural posture the subject assumes plays a large part in the overall likeness. (Shari Ford)

Roger Fry is painting me. It is too like me at present, but he is confident he will be able to alter that. Post-Impressionism is at present confined to my lower lip... and to my chin. (E. M. Forster)

There is something uniquely depressing about the fact that the National Portrait Gallery's version of the Barack Obama 'Hope' poster previously belonged to a pair of lobbyists. Depressing because Mr. Obama's Washington was not supposed to be the lobbyists' Washington, the place we learned to despise during the last administration. (Thomas Frank)

I would wish my portraits to be of the people, not like them. Not having a look of the sitter, being them. (Lucian Freud)

I am only interested in painting the actual person, in doing a painting of them, not in using them to some ulterior end of art. (Lucian Freud)

I paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be. (Lucian Freud)

I'm sick of Portraits and wish very much to take my Viol da Gamba and walk off to some sweet Village where I can paint Landskips and enjoy the fag End of Life in quietness and ease. (Thomas Gainsborough)

Confound the nose, there's no end to it! (Thomas Gainsborough)

-referring to Bette Midler...
Her eyebrows are clipped parentheses and she paints herself for the last days of the Weimar Republic. Frizzy orange curls grow in her wild hair like snapdragons pleading for water. (Paul Gardner, arts writer)

The person portrayed and the portrait are two entirely different things. (Jose Ortega Y Gasset)

The area between the nose and the chin, the subject of kissing and the vehicle for speech, is perhaps even more known and set upon than the eyes. The mouth is also riddled with a complex interweaving of folds, curves, flats and lost-and-found edges. These nuances are needed by a perceptive person who might try to understand human nature. (Robert Genn)

While loaded with painterly conventions, these mouthy nuances are the keys to personality. It's easy to be an authority on the mouth, but the darn things are difficult to paint. The mouth is where the portrait painter finds his true humility. (Robert Genn)

I try to paint from life, but I had such a miserable experience with Bonaparte, who wouldn't sit still and kept mumbling about catching a cold and something incoherent about Wellington (my French is not that good, not to mention that awful Corsican accent of his), so I finally decided to work from photos. (Roman Genn)

The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process. (Malcolm Gladwell)

A portrait affirms; it gives the gift of self to its subject. It says, 'Yes, you are worth spending this time over, your story deserves to be told, you should be recorded for you will not pass this way again.' (David Goatley)

One is never satisfied with the portrait of a person that one knows. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Have you seen that portrait Gauguin did of me painting sunflowers? It was really I, but it's I gone mad. (Vincent van Gogh)

Ah! Portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come. (Vincent van Gogh)

I want to paint men and women with that something of the external which the halo used to symbolize, and which we now seek to give by the actual radiance and vibrancy of our colorings. (Vincent van Gogh)

When you recognize your friend three blocks away, what you're really seeing is movement that is familiar. (Raul Gonzalez)

With an 'advanced' artist, it's not now possible to make a portrait. (Clement Greenberg)

Notice how, in a portrait, Rembrandt reduces the modeling of clothes to the essentials, emphasizing the head and the hands. (Irwin Greenberg)

The likeness has a great deal more to do with proportions of length than it does with drawing a perfect nose, a perfect eye, or a perfect mouth. (Daniel E. Greene)

Doing pet portraiture is not so different from painting human portraits... it's about getting the something that is 'it'... they're all beings. (Wendy Grossman)

Faces are the most interesting things we see; other people fascinate me, and the most interesting aspect of other people – the point where we go inside them – is the face. It tells all. (David Hockney)

-to Max Stern...
Am starting a self-portrait as you suggested... In the painting I will appear left-handed as the reflection in the mirror is reversed. (E. J. Hughes)

A competent portraitist knows how to imply the profile in the full face. (Aldous Huxley)

-on a portrait of himself by Peter Hurd...
The ugliest thing I ever saw. (Lyndon B. Johnson)

Ninety per cent of a portrait needs to be painted before any brush hits the canvas. Success is all about proper unhurried planning. (Johnny Jonas)

Portraits should allow the subjects to say what they want to say about themselves at that time in their lives. (Johnny Jonas)

I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best. (Frida Kahlo)

I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you. (Frida Kahlo)

What a joy it is to capture the likeness of another human being. It has been said that the eyes are the window through which we glimpse the soul. That's my favorite thing to paint – souls! (Ann Manry Kenyon)

Portraiture is composed of many tangible elements: the commission, the materials, the model. (Everett Raymond Kinstler)

Don't listen to the fools who say that pictures of people can be of no consequence, or that painting is dead. There is much to be done. (R. B. Kitaj)

There is no self-portrait of me. (Gustav Klimt)

As varied as my art interests are, I always come back to portraits. It is a fine thing to give a family a lasting tribute to a loved one. It is equally gratifying to honor a person of accomplishment with a corporate or military commission. (Jackie Knott)

However ugly a face may be, we can discover some beauty in it if we first experience wonder before it and then begin to understand it, too. (Oskar Kokoschka)

It's really absurd to make... a human image, with paint, today, when you think about it... But then all of a sudden, it was even more absurd not to do it. (Willem de Kooning)

I presume, sir, in painting your beautiful portrait, you took your idea of me from my principles, and not from my person. (Abraham Lincoln)

Don't trace out your profile - forget your side view - all that is outer stuff. Look for your other half who walks always next to you and tends to be who you aren't. (Antonio Machado)

You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and unique figure and still keep it living and real. (Edouard Manet)

-on the Irish writer George Moore, 1878...
I won't change a thing in his portrait. Is it my fault if Moore looks like a squashed egg yolk and if his face is all lopsided? Anyway, the same applies to everybody's face... (Edouard Manet)

There's no symmetry in nature. One eye is never exactly the same as the other. There's always a difference. We all have a more or less crooked nose and an irregular mouth. (Edouard Manet)

The portrait is one of the most curious art forms. It demands special qualities in the artist, and an almost total kinship with the model. (Henri Matisse)

I always work directly from life, partly because I really enjoy having an interaction with the person in front of me but also because I love having a direct response to shape and color. (Mary Beth McKenzie)

-b.1389 d.1464...
Every painter paints himself. (Cosimo de Medici)

Caricature is rough truth. (George Meredith)

I don't paint the eyes until the very end - I don't think I could bear their stare. (Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki)

If faces were not alike, we could not distinguish men from beasts; if they were not different, we could not tell one man from another. (Michel de Montaigne)

The ultimate achievement in portraiture is to produce a great painting that happens to be a portrait; a piece of art that would be desirable to someone who is not even acquainted with the subject. (L. Steven Moppert)

-The Forgotten Garden...
Long-dead men leered at them from heavy gilt frames and Eliza thought how ghastly it must be to have one's portrait painted, to sit still for so long, all so that a layer of oneself could be left forever on a canvas, hung lonely in a darkened corridor. (Kate Morton)

Like Chekhov, I am a collector of souls... if I hadn't been an artist, I could have been a psychiatrist. (Alice Neel)

I like it not only to look like the person but to have their inner character as well. And then I like it to express the zeitgeist. See, I don't like something from the '60s to look like something in the '70s. (Alice Neel)

-grandson of Alice Neel...
What I remember about being painted was a very severe atmosphere. I remember her intensity and sharp glance. (Andrew Neel)

It's not the act of arrogance to draw, it's humbling - you must use your God-given talent. And of all the people I sketch, in most cases I feel I have to measure up to the subject. (LeRoy Neiman)

When I paint, I seriously consider the public presence of a person - the surface facade. I am less concerned with how people look when they wake up or how they act at home. A person's public presence reflects his own efforts at image development. (LeRoy Neiman)

As a portrait artist, how do you keep variety in your work? You are fundamentally dealing with a human being who looks like every other human – that is, two eyes, a nose, a mouth. How do you keep from repeating yourself? (Paul Newton)

Most people today have neither the time nor the patience to be a sitter and would prefer me to work from photographs. The main thing that concerns them is a good likeness. One of the emptiest expressions I hear is, 'Is that how you see me?' (Leonard Niles)

-to her maid, before a sitting...
For Heaven's sake put away that jar of cold cream! You know how Monsieur Vuillard puts in everything he sees. (Madame de Noailles)

If a figure doesn't look back at you, you forget it. (Nathan Oliveira)

There is nothing worth knowing about portrait painting – literally nothing – that cannot be learned by sitting patiently in front of a painting by Velazquez. (Samuel Edmund Oppenheim)

Portrait painting is difficult. There are no short cuts... Every human being encompasses a whole world within himself. The artist must understand this. (Martha Orozco)

I've found that it's generally best to put the highest level of detail immediately in and around the face... I also try to minimise the amount of contrast I use in the clothing... (Dorothy Oxborough)

Where abstract painting teaches me about expression and exploration, portraiture requires a more recognizable outcome before it is even begun. Combining the two interests makes for new aesthetic judgments. (Suzanne Partridge)

-on Rembrandt's Lucretia...
When human figures - especially those with strongly discernible facial expressions - are painted, the psychological impact of that expression almost always becomes the central compositional and design feature of the picture. (Jonathan Phillips)

The portrait painter... If he insults his sitters his occupation is gone. Whether he paints the should instead of the features, or the latter with all its natural blemishes, he is as presumptuous as if he shouted, 'What a face. Hide it.' which would never do, although it is analogous to what landscape painters are doing every day. (Walter J. Phillips)

When one starts from a portrait and seeks by successive eliminations to find pure form... one inevitably ends up with an egg. (Pablo Picasso)

-refusing to have his portrait painted...
It is bad enough to be condemned to drag around this image in which nature has imprisoned me. Why should I consent to the perpetuation of the image of this image? (Plotinus)

Seeing likeness in a portrait is to recognize the craftsman in the artist. Finding soul is to discover the artist in the craftsman. (Bernard Poulin)

Though many request their portrait painted, what they actually crave is to have it look like a photograph, but... thinner. (Bernard Poulin)

Few persons who ever sat for a portrait can have felt anything but inferior while the process is going on. (Anthony Powell)

Few persons who have ever sat for a portrait can have felt anything but inferior while the process is going on. (Anthony Powell)

The self-portrait is a thankful thing, the model gets tired exactly when the artist does. When the artist is in good form, so is the model! (Aapo Pukk)

The eyes are the most important feature as they convey a person's mood, character and temperament. It's easy to create what I have termed the 'manic stare,' where the poor sitter has eyes protruding out of their sockets. (Sally Pullen)

To get someone to pose, you have to be very good friends and above all speak the language. (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)

I like to involve my subjects in what I'm doing; we kind of find our way together... showing charcoal sketches, talking about the concept... (Phil Richards)

I usually say to my subjects that my main goal is to make a really good work of art that you happen to be in, that people will respond to. (Phil Richards)

Portraits remembered are not always the truest likeness of the subject but capture the nuance of a sentiment which inspires inner reflection. (CJ Rider)

Eisenhower had about the most expressive face I ever painted, I guess. Just like an actor's. Very mobile. When he talked, he used all the facial muscles. And he had a great, wide mouth that I liked. When he smiled, it was just like the sun came out. (Norman Rockwell)

I didn't know what to expect from a famous movie star; maybe that he'd be sort of stuck-up, you know. But not Gary Cooper. He horsed around so much... that I had a hard time painting him. (Norman Rockwell)

I often concentrate on the eyes and lips, they are great indicators of mood and feeling, and I find that I can project character into my portraits by bringing the viewer's attention to these areas. (Robert Ryan)

The portrait masters captured the dignity and pageantry of life, which they achieved with breathtaking subtlety of execution. Their people were 'real'. However, the portrait giants worked with the greatest economy of means, presenting us with another lesson – simplicity is almost always best. (John Howard Sanden)

I have now got a bombproof shelter [the Continent] into which I retire when I sniff the coming portrait or its trajectory. (John Singer Sargent)

Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend. (John Singer Sargent)

A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth. (John Singer Sargent)

We... joked a little about presidential portraits. He [Bill Clinton] told me that he and Harrison Ford had been joking recently about how chins drop with age, and he didn't want to look that way. (Nelson Shanks)

Progress [occurs in portraiture] as a result of desperation rather than inspiration. (Ronald Sherr)

A portrait is first and foremost a painting. The subject is secondary. (Aaron Shikler)

The self-portrait is an act of objectifying the self and in that regard is a unique form of portraiture. (Burton Silverman)

Alas, it is just a single image - an extended moment perhaps. Unlike a biography, a portrait cannot present the many differing moments that make up a personality. (Burton Silverman)

-on John Singer Sargent...
He showed them to be rich; looking at his portraits they understood at last how rich they really were. (Osbert Sitwell)

The artist does not see both eyes alike. There is always 'the eye' and the other eye... It adds life and plasticity to the drawing if the eye in the light is darker than the one in the shadow. It gives the head vividness. (John Sloan)

I do not care to paint portraits indoors. I cannot feel sympathetic. (Joaquin Sorolla)

Doubtless the human face is the grandest of all mysteries; yet fixed on canvas it can hardly tell of more than one sensation; no struggle, no successive contrasts accessible to dramatic art, can painting give, as neither time nor motion exists for her. (Madame de Stael)

I have always noticed that in portraits of really great writers the mouth is always firmly closed. (Gertrude Stein)

The painter must always seek the essence of things, always represent the essential characteristics and emotions of the person he is painting... (Titian)

Every single person is unlike anyone else. Therefore, in creating a portrait of someone... we must look carefully to catch that particular unique quality. In fact, we can neglect nothing because everything we select or do sends a message to the observer... (Alton S. Tobey)

-Instructions in Art, first published in Metropolitan Magazine,1903...
I am living a new and exalted life of late. It steeps me in a sacred rapture to see a portrait develop and take soul under my hand. First, I throw off a study - just a mere study, a few apparently random lines - and to look at it you would hardly ever suspect who it was going to be; even I cannot tell, myself. (Mark Twain)

It is a good idea, particularly when you are doing the eyes, to get the sitter to look at you. In this way the portrait will look in every direction and at everyone who looks at it. (Antonio Palomino Y Velasco)

Let proportion be found not only in numbers and measures, but also in sounds, weights, times, and positions, and what ever force there is. (Leonardo da Vinci)

At one point I found myself standing before an oil of a horse that I figure was probably a self-portrait judging from the general execution. (Peter de Vries)

To me it is interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public to care about the identity of the portrait? (James Abbott McNeill Whistler)

I remember that at one time I always made a drawing before going to bed!! – Of myself I mean – though I finally destroyed most of them. (James Abbott McNeill Whistler)

-to a sitter's complaint that his portrait was not a great work of art...
Perhaps not, but then you can't call yourself a great work of nature. (James Abbott McNeill Whistler)

It is for the artist... in portrait painting to put on canvas something more than the face the model wears for that one day; to paint the man, in short, as well as his features. (James Abbott McNeill Whistler)

-on his portrait by Thomas Eakins...
Eakins is not a painter, He is a force. (Walt Whitman)

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. (Oscar Wilde)

The face is the soul of the body. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Take a look in the mirror for a co-operative portrait subject. Rembrandt painted and drew dozens of self-portraits in his career. (Richard Woods)

Some sitters don't engage with the process of having their portrait painted at all. They'll think it's a good opportunity to catch up with all their phone calls. (Stuart Pearson Wright)

Everything I paint is a portrait, whatever the subject. (Jamie Wyeth)

When I paint a portrait I want to know more than just the looks of the person. I want to know how they live and what their feelings are... It then becomes more than just physiognomy, but the feel of the person. (Jamie Wyeth)

I'm an odd portrait painter in that I'm not just interested in human faces. I consider almost all of my paintings to be portraits. (Jamie Wyeth)

-said while being asked by the woman to do some 'improvements' here and there...
Madam, I am a painter, not a plastic surgeon. (Alan Wylie)


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Last modified: July 23, 2014