|Adoration of the Magi, 1476, Sandro Botticelli
|Portrait of a Noblewoman (La Bella),
|Place de La Concorde, (The Viscount Lepic and his Daughters), 1875, Edgar Degas
|Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1906,
There is no one answer in all of these instances because it all depends upon your definition of a portrait. If you have no other criteria than that of a painting bearing a physical likeness to an individual, then all but Gertrude's are portraits. If you demand to know the names of the individuals depicted, then only the Viscount's and Miss Stein's are portraits. But if you demand the artist having been commissioned to render the likeness and/or character of an individual, then perhaps all are portraits. Even if we divine the purpose for which the artist rendered each painting we're still left to ponder the question in several instances. Was it shrewd politics or merely convenience that the de' Medici are seen transposed back 1500 years to the birth of Christ? Were the commissioned paintings by Titian and Rembrandt simply generic figural paintings or insightful portraits? Can an artist paint a portrait then demand that the subject become like his image? Any portrait painter will tell you this, in fact, happens, though perhaps not to the degree Picasso demanded. There is nothing simple about painting portraits...or even defining them.
|A Man in Oriental Dress: 'The Noble Slav', 1632, Rembrandt