This exhibition examines a variety of styles that could be described as “traditional portrait painting” with examples from the 1500s through the 1900s. Historically, in portrait painting the intention was not simply to represent the human figure accurately, but to capture the presence or individual nature of the subject. When looking at these paintings, it may be helpful to look not only at the people, but also at their surroundings, the objects they have around them, and even the colors used. All of these details are intentionally included by each artist to give viewers a better sense of each subject’s place and purpose. While some portraits, like Portrait of Dr. Gordon by William Halquist and Portrait of Alex Stratchen by George J. Robertson are created to celebrate the individual subject, others like Wilson Irvine’s Cal, the Widower and Walter Ufer’s Her Daughter have a more existential element, highlighting specific qualities or characteristics that exemplify something either unique or universal about the human spirit.
Selected Portraits is curated by Rockford Art Museum Assistant Curator Frances Downey.