Throughout the history, people have sought to perpetuate their image for descendants. The history of the genre begins with the portrait sculpture in Ancient
Egypt, which followed strict canons. In Ancient Greece there was no realistic portrait for a very long time. The sculpture was created in accordance with
the perfect canon of beauty. And only in the Hellenistic era the individual portrait was established. Ancient Roman statues and busts are considered to be
the most realistic examples of the portrait.
In the Middle Ages there was a complete decline of the genre. The artist and sculptor of this era create works in accordance with the strict canons of the
church. At the same time, in the East, in more favorable conditions, the masters create secular portraits with individual traits. With the change of
ideology in the Renaissance, a rebirth of the portrait genre is taking place. Technological progress was also an important factor: invention and widespread
use of oil, fabric for the canvas, brushes and masticines. The masters of this period idealized the model, but at the same time tried to convey its essence.
By 1500, the female and male portraiture had became one of the predominant genres of painting. With the beginning of such an artistic style as Mannerism,
the group portrait appears, and the historic portrait gains momentum.
In the 17th century the Dutch portraiture masters reached the peak of the portrait genre. Its democratization takes place: people of different social,
national and age groups are portrayed. The aspiration for self-knowledge promotes development of the genre of self-portrait. In the beginning of the 18th
century, the portrait becomes less important. French culture dictates fashion for the court portrait.
Creating paintings using cheaper materials (engraving, watercolor) is typical for the second half of the 18th century. If initially portraits could be
only ordered by the aristocracy, over time, this genre enveloped all layers of society.
Classicism of the 19th century brings austerity, the portrait loses its grandeur. With the invention of the photo a genre of the photo portrait appears.
In turn it stimulates the search for new forms of scenic, sculptural and graphic portraiture. The graphics of this period is represented by drawings in
pencil and charcoal.
Before the advent of impressionism in the middle of the 19th century, painters usually created portraits in their studios. The Impressionists broke the
traditional canons and began to work outdoors.
In the 20th century the portrait is in decline, although searches for alternative realistic means continue. In the second half of the 20th century new
materials for the painter`s work appear - acrylic, silkscreen, collage. However, interest in the genre dies out as a result of the development of
In the 1960s and 1970s, the genre was revived, which is associated with such a trend in art as a pop art that uses a face without any distortion. At the
same time, the genre of the photo portraiture is actively developing. Before the revolution in Russia, the family portrait was popular: the parents sat
in the center, children surrounded them - and the photographer took a picture. In the 21st century the magazine cover replaces the realistic portrait.
Given the rapid rhythm of modern life, artists increasingly have to write portraits from photography.