It is most definitely undeniable that ‘The only good portrait is a realistic portrait’. This is exceptionally evident in ancient Roman culture, where Augustus of Primaporta is depicted in the form of a statue. The head of a Roman patrician is also a valid evidenced example supporting the quote. The renaissance period demonstrated a variety of pragmatic portraits, especially the man in a red turban. Despite these portraits being painted in different eras, they all demonstrate the same key feature, realism, yet are all depicted in multiple styles and in variations of size.
Ancient Roman art began in 500 BCE and ended in 450 CE, and was an era that spanned over nearly 5 hundred years. On the basis of realism, the ancient Romans portraiture was highly characterised, where they desired to depict the images as precisely as possible, even to the extent where if the person was unflattering, they would not adjust anything. They were used for propaganda purposes and encompassed ideological messages in the pose, figure and costume. An evident example of a realistic portrait during the ancient Roman period is the distinguished 2.03-meter marble sculpture of one of ancient Rome’s most significant Emperors, Augustus of Primaporta. The realism of this sculpture is evidently conveyed through multiple parts of Augusts’ body and his costume choice. Through the ancient Romans many techniques used to portray these key features, there is no doubt that they have succeeded in making him appear more superior and controlling through his placid and serene facial expression. The realism in his face is highlighted due to his outlined cheekbones, authentic Roman nose, eye shape, slight creases on his forehead and his somewhat small lips. The fact that his hand points upwards and forwards suggests that within his powerful status and influence, he will take Rome to an even greater conquest, power and wealth. The costume Augustus is dressed in, commonly known as a breastplate and the toga draped around his waist, signifies that he will defend Rome with all his might and strength. Due to being barefoot, this highlights that he is comparing himself to the gods, as they were depicted barefoot in a majority of their statues. Thus, through August Cesar’s noble sculpture, it is evident that it is an impeccable example of ‘The only good portrait is a realist portrait’, where the ancient Roman artists highlighted his defined features and pose, which suggested his thoughts, power and influence.
Realism; an artistic movement that began in France in the 1850’s, has undoubtedly made a truthful and exotic portrait without avoiding any features of the key image. The head of a Roman patrician is an impeccable example which demonstrates the realism of ancient Romans during 75BCE. This life-sized marble statue is from Otricioli, Italy where depicts the evident wrinkles, sagging cheeks and furrowed brows of this nobleman. It gives a powerful representation of what ancient Romans appearances were due to the authentic Roman nose and defined cheekbones. This portrait gives a distinct visual representation that demonstrates to society today how Roman features have evolved over time and what they appeared to look like during this era. Hence, through the realistic and defined features portrayed in this statue, it is indisputable that a good portrait is a realistic portrait.
During the Renaissance period, this acclaimed painting, Man in a Red Turban is one of the multiple famous panel paintings by a Flemish painter, Jan Van Eyck. The purpose of Dutch and Flemish paintings was to represent art from lower status countries, where they were not as wealthy or fortunate in contrast to the Romans in western Europe. The realism of this portrait gives it a prominent modern look in comparison to regular renaissance paintings. Its gothic like style alongside the use of oil paint has demonstrated that this artwork was ahead of anyone else in Italy and stood out like no others. The defined details in the shadings and lines, highlight the natural contours visible in the face, making evident the realistic features conveyed in this portrait. Furthermore, through the costume choice, contours and highlights depicted in this painting, they present the key evident theme of realness, and further support the quote, ‘The only good portrait is a realistic portrait’.
To conclude, on the basis of realistic portraits, the ancient Roman culture conveyed prodigious artworks in the forms of life-sized statues, where they ultimately shaped the Roman culture and its ancient history. Through the Renaissance period, it would be foolish to deny the intricate and highly defined portraits they created in the forms of paintings, which are still relevant today. Therefore, through the use of these three portraits, there is absolutely no doubt that they do not further cement the quote, ‘The only good portrait is a realistic portrait’.