Portrait commissions are thriving…is it the desire to engage with the creative process, to form something more permanent or deeper, or just to remember something you loves?

Have you ever wondered why are we so drawn to having those we love or esteem portrayed by an artist?

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters placed a record number of commissions last year (a rise of 62% from 2013) despite the onslaught of the photograph, the digital age and the selfie. We are deeply drawn to and fascinated by the human face; physiologically recognition of human face is perhaps the most the most highly developed visual skill in humans but this does not explain why we want to engage an artist to take a likeness.

The portrait commission is a personal and private transactionthe fruition of a relationship and the transformation of the sitter through the imagination of the artist.  Research by Natalie Delgardo shows that thoughts of immortality and legacy is part of it but that this is at a more subconscious level. 

For my part I love to sit, and often wonder why. I like to be part of the creative process whilst held in stillness, to get to know and understand the artist and perhaps to become tainted by their talent. The portraits of our children have become more precious with the passing of time and are the icons I refer to rather than photographs when remembering them at that particular age.  The portraits are beautiful objects and in addition the artist had caught something of their essence whilst holding on to something fleeting. It is a strange alchemy!

Annabel Elton, Head of Commissions


Contact our Commissions team now or visit the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Open Exhibition and discuss commissioning a portrait with our Commissions Team