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What is Portraits


Portraits
they're all about capturing people
in a moment in time.
How much longer do I have to stay like this for?
Um...
Not much longer.
OK, maybe a few moments in time.
There are whole galleries around the globe,
and right here in Australia, dedicated to portraits.
There are portrait competitions, like the Archibald Prize,
and probably the most famous painting in the world is...
..yup, you guessed it, a portrait.
But why are portraits such a big deal?
I think I know someone I can ask.
Wait! Where are you going?
Uh... Just stay still!
Hi, Lisa, nice to meet you.
Hello, Amelia, welcome to the Art Gallery of South Australia.
When did portraiture become a thing?
Portraiture became very popular
from around the 13th century
and, interestingly, that's when the word 'portrait' was invented.
So, it means to show a likeness.
Ah, the Middle Ages.
Think medieval knights and stuff.
After that came The Renaissance, around the 1500s,
when artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo did their thing.
And people started to value art more than ever before.
So, who were the kind of people who were having their portraits painted?
Usually, the wealthy and the powerful.
Remember that there's no photography
to make a permanent image of yourself,
so art served as a way of memorialising somebody.
People who'd been dead for hundreds of years
could still be kind of living on the wall, if that makes sense.
As centuries went on, artists who weren't getting paid the big bucks
would paint loved ones, strangers, or their own faces instead.
So, portraits were no longer just of the rich and famous.
Then photography came along, and things changed again.
So, potrait photography became a booming business.
There were photography studios
lining all the major capital cities in Australia.
Painting had to change.
Painting's role was no longer to paint things that looked like life
because that's what photography could do just like that.
So, Lisa, I have a serious question for you.
What about a selfie? Does that count as a portrait?
Oh, good photo! I love it. It's a very good one.
You know, selfies are the ultimate portraits, really,
the ultimate self-portraits,
and they stand in a long line of portraiture.
They're not just something from the 21st century.
Artists have been making selfies for a long time,
it was just more difficult in the old days.
So, why are portraits still relevant today
if we have photography and everything?
I think they are ever popular because we are so curious.
We are curious about ourselves,
we are curious about each other,
and we are curious about people who lived a long, long time ago.
So, when you come into the art gallery,
sometimes you can stand in front of a portrait
that was made 400 years ago.
It's like time travelling.
Well, in that case, Lisa,
I'm going to go finish my portrait, I reckon. Thanks for having me!
You go, girl. Thank you.
And...it's done.
My masterpiece.
I love it.
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