The topic presented to you today is entitled «Portrait Painting». In my speech I am to dwell upon the following points:
— Firstly, I am to give the definition of portrait painting;
— Secondly, I would like to name kinds of portraits;
— Thirdly, I would like to speak about one of the most outstanding portraitists of Russia — Valentin Serov;
— Then, I am to give some information about British artist William Hogarth;
— After that, I would like to speak about an American portraitist Mary Cassat;
— Finally, I am to draw a conclusion expressing my opinion.
By way of introduction, I would like to say that there are a lot of different genres of paintings, all of which reflect different aspects of our life as well the inner world of the painter in the manner specific only to him. Thus, some impress our imagination with charming beauty of nature, others amaze us with realistic scenes of our daily life; some find inspiration in the beauty of human body, others in the wildness and stillness of the sea.
Portrait painting obviously stands out in this list. Portrait painting is a genre where the visual appearance of the subject, most often a person, is depicted. There are several kinds of portraits: if an artist portrays himself the result is called a self-portrait: portraits can also be full-body, half-length or head and shoulders, family or group, ceremonial or intimate. However no matter what kind of portrait an artist paints, it should always convey something more than just appearance, it should contain some...specific features, some tiny details that make a person portrayed unique and inimitable. The expression of the eyes, a barely noticeable shade of emotion — everything should be reflected by the painter. Such mastery can be observed in the works of the three outstanding painters from Russia, America and Great Britain.
I would like to start with a great Russian painter Valentin Serov. He is known for his particular concentrating on spontaneity of perception of human and nature. In the development of light and colour, the complex harmony of reflections and the sense of atmospheric saturation Serov manifested features of early Russian impressionism. His most famous portraits are «The Girl with Peaches» and «The Girl Covered by the Sun» perfectly illustrating his unique manner.
As for William Hogarth, the celebrated British artist, he depicted mostly his friends or men of similar background and each time his portraits were full with freshness and realism. So with his method he was inimitable in such works as «Captain Coram» and «The Graham Children».
Another outstanding portraitist is Mary Cassat, a well-known American artist who embraced the technique of the impressionists while developing a highly individual style. Portrayals of mothers and children became her theme, for example «The Mirror» with its oblique views and simple forms.
In conclusion, I would like to say that portrait painting is a unique genre, allowing not only to appreciate the appearance of the motionless person portrayed, but to feel his mood and try to trace some features and traits of his character with the help of every detail painted by the artist.