A Portrait can look simple, for it is usually about one main character. However, artists in Renaissance time was so creative and sensitive to the model in their paintings. They use all kinds of method to make a portrait much more meaningful than merely a record of a person’s appearance. Portrait has its own history since a very early time and as the Renaissance began in Europe, the meaning and value of human beings are more respected, portrait became more and more important especially after 15th century.
A portrait can represent the character’s personality, his or her background, the life the character lives, and even a story behind through capturing their posture and facial expression of a particular moment. A lot of habits of a person can be seen through some simple actions. Artists analyze the character, emphasize the character, and determine the most part that the want to represent of the character and finally build it up on the canvas. Like Bronzino’s Portrait of a Young Man, in the simple posture of a man leaning against a table with a book in his hand, it structured a story about this man’s life.
Portrait of a Man, Andrea del Sarto(1486-1530),1517-18, Painting, The National Gallery
This is a portrait of a sculptor. The artist captured the moment that the model was holding a piece of stone, which indicates that he was about to do something with it soon. It is important for a portrait to say something about the model’s life, such as his job, his hobbies, or something he usually does. The purpose of this portrait is to show the audience that the man in the painting is a man of creativity and skills because he can turn a piece of stone into an art piece; he has the ability to turn something normal into significant and this should draw respect from audience.
Deutsch: Bildnis eines Jünglings vor weißem Vorhang, Lorenzo Lotto(1480-1556), Circa 1506-1508, oil on panel, 42.3 × 53.3 cm (16.7 × 21 in), Kunsthistorisches Museum\
In this Portrait, the young man is dressing in black with a serious look. The background is blocked by a piece of white cloth and the things behind that cannot be seen. This draws attention form the audience to wonder about the direction that the young man is looking at. With the slightly frowning brows, and the eyes that are looking up, the artist successfully represented the man lively: he has a determined and firm personality.
The Tailor, Girovanni Battista Moroni(1525-1578), Circa 1570, Painting, 97 cm (38.2 in) x74 cm (29.1 in), National Gallery.
This is a very natural and unrestrained character that the artist created. The tailor is holding a piece of fabric in one of his hand, and a pair of scissor in the other. Seem like this is one second in his day of working when he is interrupted by someone and is trying to go back to work. This portrait fully expressed the tailor’s mental activity through his calm and unperturbed looking. Maybe he is listening to a troublesome customer stating out his or her demands. But this portrait leaves the audience a sense that the tailor will take care of it and make beautiful cloth out of the one that he is holding very soon.
The color used in this portrait is very saturated which makes the whole painting look elegant. Therefore, it is more valuable to see that a capture of daily life can be made quiet and in good taste but at the same time vivid.
Federigo Gonsaga, Francesco Francia(1447-1517), 1510, Tempera on wood, transferred from wood to canvas and then again to wood, Overall 18 7/8 x 14 in. (47.9 x 35.6 cm), Bequest of Benjamin Altman.
This portrait is made special because it has significant meaning to the mother of Federigo Gonzaga. Since the boy in the painting is wearing jewels and holding a sward, it not hard to tell that he is from a loyal family. When Francesco made this painting, young Federigo Gonsaga was on his way from Italy to Rome as a Hostage. Therefore, the boy’s eyes are dolorous. The background represents the home place that he was leaving.
This portrait was later preserved by the boy’s mother while her son was left..
Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, Raphael(1483-1520), 1514-1515, Oil on canvas, 82 cm (32.3 in)x 67 cm (26.4 in),Inventory Louvre Museum
Earl Baldassare Castiglione was politician and writer in Italy. Raphael captured the moment that he was having a kindly smile on his face gleamingly. An Earl may usually look serious because of his identity, but this one decide to show a little bit difference. This portrait focused a lot on the character’s eyes; even though the Earl was in his old age, he still has a clear and firm eyes which says something about his personality as well