Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Portrait Gallery

In case you are just tuning in and wondering, "What's up with all the portraits?", it is a topic that has snowballed a bit here. Painted portraits, whether vintage pictures of unknown subjects or very personal commissioned works, seem to be back in vogue. And of course in some families they are a tradition that never fell out of favor. So, I began asking design editors, friends, artists and decorators to share their own experiences. Many had their portrait painted or sketched as a child, some only like to see portraits displayed in private spaces, some prefer abstracts, and others gravitate to traditional styles. It's interesting.

Many thanks to all the parents of the tastemakers who are generously allowing me to share their cherished pictures and stories.

The photos shown above are by Stewart Shining and cropped from domino's April 2008 feature about Drew Barrymore's Ruthie Sommers-designed offices.

Related quick links:
Dean Larson
Carter Laney
National Portrait Gallery
Marian Anderson Portrait

One of my favorite contemporary artists, Annie Butrus, sometimes gives her in-laws drawings that she does of her children. She says, "My mother instilled in me a sense of priceless value when a gift was handmade." If you are a parent or grandparent thinking about commissioning a classic oil portrait, Annie recommends Birmingham artist Carter Laney. A sample of his work is shown below.

Dean Larson is another highly respected mid-career artist known for his realistic still lifes and portraits. He painted Schuyler Samperton's dog, as shown in image four above.

Update: 4.14.09
Mrs. Blandings recently did a great post on portraitist Brian Justice who specializes in very small (and affordable) works.

Afterthought: 4.16.09
Remember when Sister Parish went groovy in the early 1970s? Even as she embraced the high-gloss aubergine vinyl walls, polished aluminum Levelor blinds, and abstract batik prints and geometrics (temporarily abandoning her floral chintz) she kept her classic portrait hanging. I think it looks smashing against the rich walls. Images above and below are from Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design.

Update: 4.25.09
Check out this fun related post from
Caitlin and Tyler.


Sydney said...

Atlanta has a premier portrait artist Jim Schell. He is in his nineties now. He was my painting instructor for many years. You can see his paintings here:

Style Court said...

Thanks Sydney.

Mrs. Blandings said...

It's been a thoroughly delightful series - I've enjoyed every post.

Style Court said...

Patricia -- you've been a helpful part of this. Very appreciated.

Karena said...

I really love these posts because they are so personal as well as lovely.

Style Court said...

Karena -- that makes me happy. I've had fun collecting the personal stories.

Enzie Shahmiri said...

I am a professional portrait artist active in California and I am thrilled to hear that the demand for commissioned portraits is up. Portrait are such unique and special gifts. For me an excellent portrait is one that not only captures the likeness of the sitter, but also tells a narrative, thus making the portrait also a piece of captivating art.

Style Court said...

Hi Enzie -- I like what you said about the narrative very much.

I should add, I don't have any statistics on specific demand for portraits but these paintings and sketches have been appearing much more frequently in rooms photographed for magazines. And antique shops seem to have more of them :)

Brillante Interiors said...

I had two family portraits painted by a faboulous Vancouver artist (but internationally known) who also had the honour to be chosen for drawing the Queen for the new Canadian coins. I love everything she does and you can check her website at
Next will be my own portrait!

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

I have to say -this is my favorite Sister period. It looks like 2009! Love portraits too. la