Portrait Anatomy

Posted by James Napier on

Another idea, useful in portraiture, is most clearly seen when we examine the female skull side by side with the male skull. As we can see above, the male skull contains more extreme planar facets and changes. Most of these planar changes are related to muscular attachments, they serve as surfaces for the muscles to pull on. As men tend to carry more muscular mass, these planes are more extremely marked and prominent. While in the female skull all of the same muscles and muscular attachments are present they appear more ‘rounded off’ and less prominent. In the live portrait, this has the effect of men having generally more hard edged, planar information. While the female portrait has more of a tendency towards softer, more subtle information. As artists we can use this knowledge to help us to emphasise these aspects in our portraiture. See these a wonderful example of this idea in these two portraits by the great John Singer Sargent. Note the more prominent anatomical information present in the portrait of colonel Ian Hamilton versus the subtle simplicity of the famous ‘Madame X’. See our website for the full article on 'Masculinity and feminity in art' #tutorialtuesday #portraitpainting #artisticanatomy #portraitanatomy #anatomy #skulls #sargent #johnsingersargent