We have a portrait of Martha, my mother-in-law, hanging in the foyer.
It was painted by Alan Collier in 1949.
Martha was 24.
She is now 94.
It was a gift to her from the artist, in appreciation for sitting for another painting—Martha in a trench coat—which won his admission to the Ontario Society of Artists. Sadly we don’t have, have never seen, and can’t even find any information on—this work. If you own it, let me know.
In this mobile digital era, where whipping out your phone to capture a photo is commonplace, a portrait seems almost otherworldly.
PORTRAITS TAKE TIME
A well-executed portrait usually requires numerous sittings: the average is four.
Everyone can press a button or tap their finger to take a photo, but not everyone can paint a picture. Of course, taking a good photo is also a talent.
A PORTRAIT IS MORE THAN A LITERAL LIKENESS
A captivating portrait is one that evokes an emotion. Rather than capturing a fleeting moment, a portrait portrays something of the inner essence of the subject as seen from the artist’s point of view.
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.
Here are some iconic portraits:
Portrait of Gloria Vanderbilt’s mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, by Dana Pond,1923
Portrait of Gloria Vanderbilt by Aaron Shikler, 1982
Portrait of Carolina Herrera by Andy Warhol, 1979
Portrait of Gloria Guinness by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, 1959
Stylized Portrait of Gloria Guinness by Jon Ray Fernandez, 2019
Portrait of Diana Vreeland by William Acton, 1934
Instagrammers and bloggers may have hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of pictures of themselves. But how many have a portrait?
It’s something pretty special.