Artists have long captured the female subject in portraits, whether they are muses, women, models or lovers. Largely painted by men, for men, these paintings give us clues about the culture, status and fashion of a society.
But times have changed. According to the Royal Society of Portrait Painter's, women now have their own portraits made.
& # 39; Not just because they have the extra money, & # 39 ;, says Philippa Stockley, who painted female academics, artists and architects, & # 39; but because they feel valuable enough and relevant enough to do so; they feel important and worth recording, either for pleasure or as a marker of themselves and their performance. & # 39;
Many have achieved status in their careers or want memories for family and future generations. Maybe they have survived an illness, got married or became a grandmother.
Three women revealed the motivation behind their portraits, including Daisy Goodwin (photo) who is the creator and writer of ITV & # 39; s Victoria
Portraits can also be political.
To mark women 100 years after women's election rights, a fully female group of photographers created portraits of all 209 female members of parliament last year.
& # 39; Portraits have always been very male-oriented & # 39 ;, says Annabel Elton, advisor to the Royal Society of British Painters. & # 39; But over the years it has become much more balanced. & # 39;
But it is interesting how many women suddenly discover halfway through life that they want to be captured by a professional painter or photographer. We certainly want to celebrate that we have come that far. Or maybe we think: & # 39; This is the best one I'm going to look for. Seize the day. & # 39;
Here three top writers reveal what motivated them. .
My jaw hurt trying to avoid my & # 39; Resting bitch face & # 39;
Daisy Goodwin is the writer and creator of ITV & # 39; s Victoria
My desire for a portrait started when we were looking for a photo to set the order of service for my mother's memorial. There were many photos of her, but the most arresting image, closest to expressing her vibrant complex personality, was a watercolor painted by a friend of hers when she was in her thirties.
I then realized that I wanted something just as personal for my children. It sounds macabre, but commissioning the portrait was the moment I got the hang of my mortality.
Daisy (pictured with her portrait) was inspired to draw a portrait of herself by Paul Benney after she went looking for a photo for her mother's memorial service
I decided to have my daughters, 28 and 17, paint at the same time; after all, they are my greatest achievements.
I knew Paul Benney, who painted so many Queen's people, and he once made me a charcoal sketch that I love, and now use it as my Twitter profile photo.
But although I knew him very well, something almost intolerably intimate was to sit down to be carefully examined by those intense blue eyes. I was completely dressed, but I might as well have been naked. Towards the end of the first session, my jaw ached with the effort not to let my face collapse in what my daughters rested on my & # 39; resting female face & # 39; to mention. But as the sessions went on – there were probably ten in total – I started to relax and realized that while I was going to spend my life coming up with fictional characters, this one image I couldn't control.
In a world full of pouting selfies, this is permanent – Daisy Goodwin
The painting changed a lot from the first session; Paul has long tried to determine what expression felt genuine, as he expressed it, & # 39; Daisy & # 39 ;.
So my first emotion when Paul finally allowed me to see the portrait was a flare of relief.
& # 39; It's the hardest thing in the world to paint a smile & # 39 ;, he said as he turned the photo. & # 39; But I felt that you are not without it. & # 39;
He brought the finished photo to my birthday party, so there was an unplanned public unveiling.
My oldest daughter looked at it for a long time and said: & # 39; He really has you, Mom. & # 39;
My youngest daughter said: & # 39; I wish you looked like this all the time. & # 39;
Daisy believes her portrait (pictured) is a representation of her essence rather than just her face at a time when the world is full of pouting selfies
Some friends were a little surprised that I had decided to immortalize myself. They didn't say: & # 39; Isn't it enormously in vain to have a portrait made, & # 39; but I could see them thinking.
But the general feeling was that Paul had something about me that they recognized. I hope they see what I see, that is a woman who looks at the world with optimism and goodwill. That is certainly not how I feel every day, but I am at my best.
In a world full of pouting selfies and rictus grinning in front of the camera, this photo is something permanent, a representation not only of my face, but of my essence.
While photos of my daughters show them at the start of their lives at the height of their ambition and beauty: my portrait is a reflection on a life that is being lived and it is how I want to be remembered.
For advice on how to have a portrait made, go to: therp.co.uk/portrait-commission
Hanging the finished photo on my wall felt like a victory
by Liz Hoggard
I was flattered and somewhat terrified when Philippa suggested that I sit down in front of her. Seeing myself in other people's photos, looking tense and shiny, is hard enough. On bad days I avoid mirrors.
But I am fascinated by female portraits. I love the way famous images of women, from Madame X by John Singer Sargent (who scandalized Victorian society with her bare shoulders) to the glamorous aristocrats of Tamara de Lempicka, tell stories about women, who look at the artist's eyes with courage and pride.
So when Philippa told me she needed a babysitter for a show she went in, I thought I might never get this chance again. She suggested a & # 39; a Bloomsbury look & # 39; to have. & # 39; You mean tall and conceited? & # 39; I joked. We made an appointment and then I started to panic. But I was won by Philippa's candid emails.
Liz Hoggard (photo) recalls that she was asked to sit in front of her portrait by Philippa, who was able to complete her painting in 30 minutes
& # 39; Think of clothing, but don't worry, & # 39; she advised. & # 39; Make sure you are warm enough to sit for an hour and feel relaxed, as you can see it. I am not afraid to paint patterns and I love color. Pearls are good if you have a pearly mood. If you have striking pillows, a nice teacup and saucer, or a shaky pile of books on a table next to you – it can really suit you. If it doesn't work, I'll tell you. & # 39;
On the day itself, Philippa made things painless. She poured us a glass of port (for the nerves) and then posed to me on a chair in my sitting room. First she did a pencil sketch. & # 39; It gives the sitter time to get used to being looked at and thought about & & # 39 ;, she explained.
Then she started taking photos, some worrying close-up. Exactly at that moment my cat Spooky jumped into my lap. & # 39; Serendipity, & # 39; Philippa said, clicking away. She pulled out a hairy stole and put it around my shoulders.
She was ready in 30 minutes. & # 39; The real painting continues in the studio, & # 39; she explained.
Three weeks later I went to see my portrait. I was very nervous: what if I hated the way I looked? When she removed the dust cloth, I was in shock. I immediately went into the usual uncertainties – flat hair, high forehead; Oh God, wasn't it unpleasant to have stronger eyebrows? But at the same time the colors and textures started to stick out to me. I loved the way she captured my crazy vintage wallpaper. And the look of confidence in my cat's eyes.
I don't look pretty, but I look purposeful – Liz Hoggard
& # 39; Let's just sit there for a while & # 39 ;, Philippa advised. And she was right. After a little deep breathing and a glass of wine, I calmed down. Slowly I started to like it.
& # 39; A portrait is not a person and should not try to be & # 39 ;, she said kindly. & # 39; Sometimes the image dictates things you don't expect.
& # 39; For centuries I have had the intricate patterns of the wallpaper painted behind you because it seemed to support your exoticism. & # 39;
When I showed friends pictures of the portrait, they insisted that I buy it. (Poor Philippa, I paid her in installments of £ 100 per month). For the show, she named the image & # 39; Madonna and cat & # 39 ;, written in the caption. & # 39; Like all my babysitters, Liz is a strong person. Weakness is impossible to paint. Perhaps because of that trust, she was able to let me decide on pose and composition.
& # 39; She claims she was nervous, but it came across as a sort of imperial resistance that I tried to capture. & # 39;
Nine months later, when I finally took the photo home and it was hanging against my crazy background, it felt like a victory. I don't look beautiful, but I look purposeful.
I love Bronte novels about simple governors who demand the right to a rich inner life and refuse to accept the fate that has been laid down for them. And I think Philippa has recorded that. Every day I walk past my portrait. This woman, who I am both and not, has settled in my house. And heart. She will be with me forever.
A nude was joking way to celebrate become older!
by Sophia Money-Coutts
My portrait is behind my bed. It is a full-length black-and-white photo taken a few years ago. I often forget that it is there, but occasionally I need a plumber or carpenter to set up more planks and blush when their eyes fall on the frame, because it's a nude portrait and you can do a lot of it in see.
It was shot when I worked for Tatler Magazine, not long after I interviewed photographer Grace Vane Percy, who had published a coffee table book with her nude portrait.
Her book was full of well-exposed photographs of models posing nude in chic houses and castles. A peach-colored bottom climbs a stately staircase; another nude drapes himself over a marble sarcophagus; a rather chilly looking woman floats on the side of a fountain.
Sophia Money-Coutts (photo) posed for a portrait of Grace Vane Percy during her time for the magazine Tatler
It was art, not pornography, and when Grace talked me through her portfolio, a thought bubble formed in my head: & I wonder if she can make me look good without clothes? & # 39 ;
I recently ran my third marathon, so was in a relatively good condition and was about to turn 30. I threw a birthday party, but a nude portrait seemed a nicer, more unusual way to celebrate. Also my nipples were still in the right direction and if I didn't do it now, that could soon change.
There are innumerable portraits of dead relatives in my family – a great-great-grandfather in military uniform, an old aunt in bonnet and lace dress. A nude could shake things up a bit, I decided to tell the grandchildren something.
A few weeks later I arrived at Grace's studio in West London. I had knickers and a bra in my handbag because she had sent me strict instructions to prevent bulging lines in the photos: & # 39; It is important that you do not wear tight clothing or socks from the morning of the session . This includes bra and underpants. "We had a polite cup of tea and discussed the postures she thought it would work before she sent me to her bathroom to undress. I emerged in a dressing gown and, like a child who was persuaded to smile for his school photo, moved into position for the camera and threw my robe aside.
Strangely enough, the first few minutes I wriggled around the floor as wet as a newborn baby, critically assessed by a woman I barely knew. & # 39; Weapon a little, turn your head to the right, no, too far, back a fraction, & # 39; and so on, Grace said as she started to click. I soon forgot to feel self-conscious because it felt so liberating.
There were several that made me more proud and feminine than I could remember – Sophia Money-Coutts
& # 39; Here I am, as pert as Rita Hayworth, & # 39; I told myself optimistically, going from my back to my bare buttocks and looking over my shoulder. I lay on my front; I lay down on my side and put my hand on my hip; I stood up and she shot me from behind, one leg moved slightly forward.
In almost two hours, Grace took dozens of photos that she later sent to me so that I could choose the thumbnail to blow up for my bedroom. I didn't like all of them. The lighting was incredibly tactful, but it couldn't do any miracles and the dimples on the back of my thighs still shone through in different shots. Ironically, it was my pointed nose (as opposed to more intimate body parts) that made me angry with others.
But there were several that made me more proud and feminine than I could remember. In the V&A, visitors walk past marble statues of women with real bodies – bent bellies and plump buttocks that you want to squeeze with both hands.
I felt like one of those images and chose the full photo. My head is thrown back, my chest pushes to the sky and my legs stretch out in front of my torso (although I have the weirdly timid moment, hence my picture stays in the bedroom and another of Grace & # 39; s models is here pictured).
There is a faint color line visible around my hips that you don't often see on the nudes of Michaelangelo, but it makes the photo more real, more I.
Not that I admit something like that to a visiting plumber. & # 39; Sorry, forgive the art, & # 39; I say to them, hurrying to my bathroom, & can I show you where the leak is? & # 39;
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