Portrait Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old portrait quotes, portrait sayings, and portrait proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.     

Oscar Wilde

In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view and to be conceptual with a picture. The image may not be literally what's going on, but it's representative.     

Annie Leibovitz

There are only two styles of portrait painting; the serious and the smirk.     

Charles Dickens

To sit for one's portrait is like being present at one's own creation.     

Alexander Smith

A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, the Testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.     

Philippe Halsman

The severe portrait that is not the greatest joy in the world to the subject may be enormously interesting to the reader.     

Irving Penn

A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.     

John Singer Sargent

When having my portrait painted I don't want justice, I want mercy.     

Billy Hughes

The reason some portraits don't look true to life is that some people make no effort to resemble their pictures.     

Salvador Dali

A portrait is like an ornamental headstone. It is not for the subject, but for those who look upon it. For those you want to remember.     

Julie Klassen

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.     

Edward Steichen

A portrait isn't a fact but an opinion - an occasion rather than a truth.     

Richard Avedon

Portraits are the most intimate photographs. The image will survive the subject.     

Victor Skrebneski

A study of family portraits is enough to convert a man to the theory of reincarnation.     

Arthur Conan Doyle

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

Umberto Boccioni

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

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

Nothing in a portrait is a matter of indifference. Gesture, grimace, clothing, decor even - all must combine to realize a character.     

Charles Baudelaire

To demand the portrait that will be a complete portrait of a person is as futile as to demand that a motion picture be condensed into a single still.     

Alfred Stieglitz

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

Painting someone's portrait is, of course, an impossible task. What an absurd idea to try and distil a human being, the most complex organism on the planet, into flicks, washes, and blobs of paint on a two-dimensional surface.     

David Cobley

A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.     

Richard Avedon

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

Portraits are supposed to "look within," but in my opinion very few people have an interior significantly different from the outside portrait.     

Jon Witcomb

A Portrait of the artist as a young man is in fact the gestation of a soul.     

Richard Ellmann

The portrait I do best is of the person I know best.     


Portraits are about revealing aspects of an individual.     

Kehinde Wiley

In a portrait, you always leave part of yourself behind.     

Mary Ellen Mark

A family portrait is only complete with love to fill it's frame.     

Wes Fesler

The portrait of my parents is a complicated one, but lovingly drawn.     

Joyce Maynard