Australian Portraiture: Naturalistic and Imagined

Amy Jackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is something magnetic about portraits. Portraits ignite connections with others through art and resonate with a diverse audience. For the purposes of this paper, portraits are defined as works of art that are based on a living or once living individual and consciously made to be viewed by others. Adding to the increasingly diverse ways of thinking about portraiture as a genre, this paper contrasts the different characteristics of two forms of portraiture termed ‘naturalistic’ and ‘imagined’. To establish the unique properties that distinguish imagined portraiture from the more traditional conventions ofnaturalistic portraiture, it delves into the complexities intrinsic in the portrait genre, concentrating on one particular duality that relates to the perceived function of portraiture–whether portraits are valued in a documentary or an artistic sense. In contrast with naturalistic portraits which privilege mimes is, this paper reveals that imagined portraits privilege a high projection of the artist. To illustrate the differences between these strands of portraiture, this paper draws on the work of two Australianartists: Sidney Nolan and John Lendis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of the Arts in Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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