The 50 Best Portrait Quotes to Inspire You

Today, we will explore some of the most inspiring portrait quotes from well-known artists, photographers or just someone who appreciates art.

When you look at a portrait, what do you see? The subject’s appearance, of course, but also their mood, their story, and sometimes even their soul. A great portrait can encapsulate all of those things and more.

Portrait quotes can provide context, reveal hidden depths, and add levity to an otherwise serious subject. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most memorable portrait quotes from history and see how they enrich our understanding of the people captured in these images.

Whether you are an aspiring artist, a student, a writer, or just a dabbler who appreciates art, these quotes will resonate with you. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy reading about some of the most insightful portrait quotes.

Inspirational portrait quotes

A portrait is so much more than just a picture of someone. It captures the essence of their soul and tells a story about who they are. Here are some inspiring portrait quotes to help you capture the beauty and spirit of the people you love.

“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

“A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This quote captures the essence of what it means to be a man with good manners. Good manners are a reflection of one’s inner self and show the world what kind of person you are. If someone has bad manners, it is a reflection of their own insecurity and lack of self-awareness.

“The reason some portraits don’t look true to life is that some people make no effort to resemble their pictures.”
Salvador Dali

“When you take a photograph of someone, you take a portrait of their soul.”
Winna Efendi

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
Edward Weston

portrait quotes to captures the essence of soul

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”
Oscar Wilde

“I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the wren; and my hair is bold, like the chestnut bur; and my eyes, like the sherry in the glass, that the guest leaves.”
Emily Dickinson

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature, or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.”
Samuel Butler

“In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind.”
Mary Ellen Mark

“A portrait, to be a work of art, neither must nor may resemble the sitter…one must paint its atmosphere.”
Umberto Boccioni

Portrait quotes

When it comes to portraits, creativity is key. Whether you’re shooting a self portrait or working with a client, these portrait quotes will help you spark some creativity and get those juices flowing.

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson
This is a great quote to keep in mind when you’re starting out in portraiture. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re starting out and comparing your work to others, but just keep shooting and eventually you’ll find your style.

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
Andy Warhol
This quote is a reminder that even though people change over time, photos always capture them in that moment. That’s what makes portraits so special and timeless.

“In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
Matt Hardy

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
Paul Caponigro

Portrait quotes to spark creativity

“Self-portraits are a way of revealing something about oneself.”
Eric Kandel

“When you are doing portraits, you have that intimacy with someone for a few minutes. For a really good portrait, you don’t take the portrait – it’s given.”
Giles Duley

“Obviously a drawing of a person is not a real person, but a drawing of a line is a real line.”
Sol LeWitt

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
Frida Kahlo

“I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather does the person grow to look like his portrait.”
Salvador Dali

Meaningful portrait quotes

Portrait not just about taking pictures of other people, but also capturing the little moments in life that make us smile. Here are some insightful portrait quotes to remind us to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life:

“I want to be somebody who’s remembered long after I’m gone.”
Marilyn Monroe

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When magic through nerves and reason passes, imagination, force, and passion will thunder. The portrait of the world is changed.”
Dejan Stojanovic

“There are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk.”
Charles Dickens
He argued that the smirk was the more common of the two, as it was easier to achieve and more flattering to the subject. However, he believed that the serious style was more true to life and ultimately more rewarding for both the artist and the viewer.

“And painted portraits have a life of their own that comes from deep in the soul of the painter and where the machine can’t go.”
Vincent Van Gogh

portrait quotes to make you smile

“I paint in oils, I paint in acrylics. I paint figurative and landscape portraits. It’s all in my own kind of style. I’m self-taught.”
Pierce Brosnan

“For me, a good portrait shows the fragility and humility of the person, and at the same time a strength, a resting in themselves.”
Wolfgang Tillmans

“What I really do is make portraits of the soul.”
Jan Saudek

“One is never satisfied with the portrait of a person that one knows.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view. The image may not be literally what’s going on, but it’s representative.”
Annie Leibovitz

Famous portrait quotes

Here are some famous quotes about portraits that will inspire you to live your life to the fullest:

“Portraits are most successful when they manage to convey the sitter’s personality and spirit.”
John Singer Sargent

“Most of our modern portrait painters are doomed to absolute oblivion. They never paint what they see. They paint what the public sees, and the public never sees anything.”
Oscar Wilde

“Everything is autobiographical and everything is a portrait.”
Lucian Freud
Everything we do is a reflection of ourselves, and every decision we make is a portrait of who we are. So next time you’re faced with a decision, make the choice that best reflects who you are and what you want to achieve in life.

“When you start with a portrait and try to find pure form by abstracting more and more, you must end up with an egg.”
Pablo Picasso

“The portrait is one of the most curious art forms. It demands special qualities in the artist, and an almost total kinship with the model.”
Henri Matisse

quotes about portrait to live by

“None of us is born with the right face. It’s a tough job being a portrait photographer.”
Imogen Cunningham

“When you start with a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, through successive eliminations, you arrive inevitably at the egg. Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait.”
Pablo Picasso

“The earth paints a portrait of the sun at dawn with sunflowers in bloom. Unhappy with the portrait, she erases it and paints it again and again.”
Rabindranath Tagore

“What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound than a portrait.
Charles Baudelaire”

“My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.”
Helmut Newton

Deep portrait quotes

When it comes to portrait quotes, there are some that just warm your heart. They make you feel all fuzzy inside and remind you of the good in people.

“It is for the artist…in portrait painting to put on canvas something more than the face the model wears for that one day; to paint the man, in short, as well as his features.”
James Whistler

“It seems to be a law of nature that no man, unless he has some obvious physical deformity, ever is loth to sit for his portrait.”
Max Beerbohm

“A letter is the portrait of the soul.”
Josephine de Beauharnais
There’s something special about taking the time to put your thoughts into words, choosing each one carefully to create sentences that flow together. When you receive a handwritten letter from someone, you can almost feel their presence on the page.

“A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person.”
Saul Leiter

“A portrait of the artist as a young man is in fact the gestation of a soul.”
Richard Ellmann

portrait quotes that will warm your heart

“But a book is only the heart’s portrait – every page a pulse.”
Emily Dickinson

“In art, there is no need for color; I see only light and shade. Give me a crayon, and I will paint your portrait.”
Francisco Goya

“I prefer black and white and portrait photography. I like old, you know, interesting faces, so I think black and white brings out the contrast.”
Brooklyn Beckham

“From the first shock of the contemplation of a face depends the principal sensation which guides me throughout the entire execution of a portrait.”
Henri Matisse

“Nothing in a portrait is a matter of indifference. Gesture, grimace, clothing, decor even – all must combine to realize a character.”
Charles Baudelaire

Final thought

The portrait quotes can be a great way to capture the essence of a person. They can be used to commemorate an important event or time in someone’s life. Whether you’re looking for a meaningful gift for a loved one or a special way to remember a friend, portrait quotes are a unique and thoughtful option. So, get out your paints, your pencils, your clay, or your camera and let the creativity flow!

We hope you enjoyed our portrait quotes. We think they provide valuable insight into the world of portraiture and how to approach it. If you’re thinking of getting a portrait done, we recommend finding a reputable artist who can provide you with a quality product. Thanks for reading!

Read more: sketch quotes | drawing quotes | painting quotes | art quotes.

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