Skip to Content

Examining Portraits

Portraits can describe a person’s physical likeness, status, personality, and/or interests. This chapter presents the range of ways artists represent people.

Discover a rare double-sided portrait by Leonardo da Vinci. Rich and powerful aristocrats and royalty had their portraits painted by the French artist Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, and the emperor Napoleon posed for Jacques-Louis David. Introspective and enigmatic, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin painted self-portraits that express their personal styles, while Chuck Close creates large-scale portraits with surprising and innovative techniques.

As you examine the works in this chapter, consider what portraits reveal about the sitter and what they tell us about the artist.

Leonardo da Vinci



Download PDF (11MB)

Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun and Jacques-Louis David

1755–1851 (Vigée Le Brun); 1748–1825 (David)


Download PDF (8MB)

Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin

1853–1890 (Van Gogh); 1848–1903 (Gauguin)

Dutch (van Gogh); French (Gauguin)

Download PDF (14MB)

Chuck Close

born 1940


Download PDF (7MB)