Picturing the family
Picturing the family

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Picturing the family

Activity 1

Click on 'View document' below to open and read part of Audrey Linkman's article on 'Photography and art theory', then answer the questions.

View document [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Activity 1a

How did portrait painters acquire an appreciation of ideal beauty?


Painters studied nature but also placed considerable emphasis on making drawings of Greek and Roman statues. This discipline was known as ‘drawing from the Antique’. It gave painters a familiarity with the shapes and proportions used in classical sculpture that were greatly admired and respected by later artists.

Activity 1b

How did they resolve the dilemma between representing ideal beauty and accurate likeness?


Equipped with this knowledge of approved proportion and form, painters were expected to subtly modify those features of the real-life sitter that were considered inferior to the classical model. Such modifications were of course easier to make for the painter than the photographer.

Activity 1c

How did photographers respond to this notion of ideal beauty?


The new technology had the ability to reproduce appearance in accurate detail. In spite of that, photographers felt obliged to create a portrait which shadowed, concealed or excluded those physical attributes in the sitter which were regarded as defects, and to highlight features perceived as attractive according to the tastes of the time.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two gentle introductory routes to our qualifications find out Where to take your learning next? You could either choose to start with an Access courses or an open box module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus