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Picturing the family
Picturing the family

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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.

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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.