Edward De Vere
Early 17th Century Old Masters Portrait Paintings
Oil, Wood Panel
16th Century Old Masters Figurative Paintings
Early 19th Century Old Masters Portrait Paintings
A Close Look at old-masters Art
Encompassing centuries of change in Europe between 1300 and 1800, from booms of prosperity to bloody revolutions, Old Masters describes a wide range of artists. The informal term was derived from the title of an artist who trained in a guild long enough to become a master, such as Leonardo da Vinci, who studied in a Florence painters’ guild. However, Old Masters paintings, prints and other art is now used to refer to work made by any artist with a high level of skill in painting, drawing, sculpture or printmaking who worked during this era.
The 15th century’s expansive trade and commerce spread culture across borders. A vibrant period of art emerged, bolstered by studies of anatomy and nature that influenced a new visual realism. From Raphael and Michelangelo in the Renaissance to Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer in the Dutch Golden Age, artists expressed emotion, naturalism, color and light in new ways. El Greco and Paolo Veronese were leaders in the dramatic style of Mannerism, while Caravaggio and Peter Paul Rubens demonstrated the movement and meticulous detail of Baroque art.
Historically, most attention was concentrated on male artists, but recent research and exhibitions have elevated the impactful work of women such as Rachel Ruysch and Artemisia Gentileschi. In late-18th-century France, female artists like Adélaïde Labille-Guiard and Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun were prominent names. Nevertheless, access to the academies and guilds was highly restricted for women, and even those able to establish practices were expected to adhere to portraits and still lifes rather than the grand history paintings being created by men.
Find a collection of Old Masters prints, paintings, drawings and watercolors and other art on 1stDibs.
Finding the Right portrait-paintings for You
An elegant and sophisticated decorative touch in any living space, portrait paintings have remained popular throughout the years and are widely loved pieces of art for display in many homes today.
Portrait paintings are at least as old as ancient Egypt, where realistic, lifelike depictions of the recently deceased — commonly known as “mummy portraits” — were painted on wooden panels and affixed to mummies as part of the burial tradition.
For centuries, painters have used portraiture as a means of expressing a subject’s nobility, societal status and authority. Portraits were given as gifts in Renaissance Europe, and a portrait artist might have been commissioned to help mark a significant occasion such as a wedding or a promotion to high office. Prior to the advent of photography, which eventually replaced painted portraits as a quicker and more efficient way of capturing a person’s essence, the subject of a portrait had to sit for hours until the painter had finished. And during the 18th century in particular, if an artist commissioned for a portrait struggled with how to adequately memorialize and capture a subject’s likeness, sometimes a portrait painting wasn’t completed for up to a year.
Whether it’s part of the gallery-style approach to your living-room or dining-room walls or merely inspiration as you devise an eye-grabbing color scheme in your home, a portrait painting is a timeless decorative object for any interior. A landscape painting or sculpture might give you the kind of insight into a specific region of the world or a different culture that you can ascertain only through art. Similarly, when you take the time to learn about the subject of a portrait painting that you bring into your home — the sitter’s history, the relationship between the sitter and the artist should one exist, the story of how the portrait came to be — that work can become intensely personal in addition to its place as an object for an art-hungry corner of your apartment or house.
On 1stDibs, visit a vast collection of famous portrait paintings or works by emerging artists. Search by medium to find the right portrait paintings for your home in oil paint, synthetic resin paint and more. Find portrait paintings in a variety of styles, too, including contemporary, Impressionist and Pop art, or search by artist to find unique works created by painters such as Mark Beard, Steve Kaufman and Montse Valdés.