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Famous Portrait Artists

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Portrait is a work of art, that a painter laboriously paints, to reveal the facial features, personality and the characteristics of his subject. Time has witnessed the creative masterpieces made by few men, who had that extraordinary talent of adding life to the portraits they created.
A woman decided to have her portrait painted. She told the painter of the commission, "Paint me wearing diamond rings, a diamond necklace, emerald bracelets, a ruby brooch, and a gold Rolex."
"But you aren't wearing any of those things," the painter replied.

"I know," the woman said. "It's in case I should die before my husband. I'm sure he will remarry right away, and I want his new wife to go crazy looking for the jewelry."

This joke rightly captures the essence of having a self-portrait painted. Portrait paintings freeze a person's image for eternity.
Although, it's the age of digital camera, with high-definition image resolutions, nothing can reach the human touch in a portrait painting. Many painters have attempted to paint portraits, and have succeeded in creating real-life paintings. But there are only a few famous painters who have managed to portray the emotions attached to the subject.

Masters of Portrait Painting

There are many painters in different eras, who have managed to create masterpieces with the stroke of their brush. Some of these portrait artists are covered in the following list.
Andrea del Sarto (1486 - 1531)

This Italian painter was known for his character paintings. Sarto's style of painting is marked by his interest in colors and use of light and shade. This is characterized by sophisticated informality and natural expression of emotions.

Andrea del Sarto has a very long birth name. He was called Andrea d'Agnolo di Francesco di Luca di Paolo del Migliore. He was born in Italy on 29th September 1530. His most famous artwork includes:
  • Madonna of the Harpies
  • Birth of the Virgin
  • Portrait of a Sculptor 
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

Rembrandt van Rijn, a Dutch painter, is known for his unorthodox use of lighting, and the disturbing erotic presentation of his subjects. Rembrandt painted portraits on a dark background, and illuminated the subjects in such a way that they appeared almost three-dimensional.

Rembrandt van Rijn was named Rembrant Harmenszoon van Rijn at birth. He was born on 15th July 1606. This Dutchman's most famous works include:
  • Danaë
  • Belshazzar's Feast
  • Night Watch 
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Perhaps one of the most famous artists who has patrons all over the world; Leonardo da Vinci is the ultimate genius who can be called 'Jack of all trades, and Master of all'. He was a painter, sculptor, draftsman, architect, engineer, anatomist, physicist, astronomer,observer of life and a great thinker.
This genius is one of the few artists who managed to bring together science and art.

Leonardo da Vinci was named Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci. He was born on 15th April 1452. This Italian was a master in various fields of arts as well as science. He is known for most famous artwork that includes:
  • Mona Lisa
  • The Last Supper
  • The Vitruvian Man 
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Vincent van Gogh is probably the best Dutch painter, after Rembrandt. He used bold colors and focused on peasants and rural scenes. His fascination for the poor made them subjects of his earlier works. His style of painting was influenced by his contemporaries.
He experimented with pointillism, a stilt in which many primary colored dots are painted closely together to form the illusion of rich color when seen from a distance. Vincent van Gogh moved to Arles, in the south of France in 1888, and established Studio of the South. He invited Paul Gauguin to his studio and the two exchanged self-portraits.
Vincent van Gogh was named Vincent Willem van Gogh at birth. He was born on 30th March 1853. He was a Dutch national and is known for his work in painting and drawing. Some of the famous artwork by van Gogh include:
  • At Eternity's Gate
  • Wheatfield with Crows
  • The Potato Eaters 
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Henri Matisse loved to use bright, vivid colors and beautiful lines that made his paintings to look alive. He traveled a lot and was inspired by foreign places and people. He used to paint flowers, fruits and glassware. Henri loved to improve his art and began to use lighter and calmer colors with lots of decorative lines.
Henri Matisse is also famous for sculpting and line drawings. He designed a chapel in 1948.

Henri Matisse's birth name was Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse. He was born on 31st December 1869. A French national he excelled in the field of painting, printmaking, drawing, collage as well as sculpture. His most famous works include:
  • Woman with a Hat
  • The Dessert: Harmont in Red
  • Blue Nude
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Renoir was a French artist who is said to be a celebrator of beauty, especially feminine sensuality. His paintings were always full of vibrant color and focused on people. One of his primary subject was female nude. He had an Impressionist style. Renoir is the father of actor Pierre Renoir and filmmaker Jean Renoir.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on 25th February 1841. He was a French national known for his works such as:
  • Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876
  • Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880
  • Nude, 1910 
There are many famous portrait artists like Michelangelo Buonarroti, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Fransisco de Goya, Gutav Klimt, Andy Warhol, etc. who have breathed life in to the paintings they created.
These renowned artists have given a new meaning to every stroke of paint. Each portrait artist had a unique style of their own that has added richness to art history. Each of their masterpieces are worth more than millions of dollars. As long as there are people who appreciate art, many talented artists will be born in eras to come.