How Did Portrait Paintings Become Famous?

Throughout history, different styles of paintings have been more popular than others. So at what point did portrait paintings step into the spotlight of fame? Some portrait paintings date all the way back to Ancient Egyptian times while others were created within the past century. But it wasn’t until 1450 when portrait painting became really popular.

Over the years, the styles of portraits have changed. We’ve seen portraits that use very dark and heavy paint with precise lines, but we’ve also seen portraits like Van Gough’s, where light colors and brush strokes were used to create a masterpiece.

But no matter the style of painting, having your portrait painted meant something, depending on the time period. Let’s look into why portrait paintings became famous!

Portraits Signified Wealth

One of the main reasons portraits became famous was what owning one signified. Having a portrait of yourself meant you had enough money to pay an artist to create one for you. Portrait painters did not come cheap. In fact, portrait prices could cost anywhere between $10,000 – $100,000. 

Historically, if you had a portrait of yourself, it was a statement to your surrounding world of your social status and wealth. Having one portrait was saying something, but those who were ultra-wealthy were able to have large portraits all throughout their home to show off how well off they were. 

In fact, many wealthy royals would often have the artist paint their portraits of them wearing high heels. Throughout the middle ages, it was actually men who wore heeled shoes as it was a sign of elevated status. So if you could get a painting of yourself wearing high heels, you would be seen as one of the wealthiest people around.

The next time you visit a historical mansion or castle, see how many portraits you can find. We guarantee you’ll find at least a few; no castle is complete without a few portrait paintings.

When Cameras Didn’t Exist

Imagine a period in time where cameras didn’t exist. Before cameras were invented in 1816, a person would have to get a painted portrait if they wanted something that would outlive them and be passed down to their children and grandchildren. Without a portrait, and with no way to take a photo, people wouldn’t know what their grandparents looked like.

Having a portrait painted of you or your family meant it would outlast you and you could essentially be remembered forever. As we mentioned before, it was typically the wealthy that had their portraits done. But as time went on, the middle class became more and more interested in owning their very own portrait paintings because they didn’t want to be forgotten once they passed on. So, middle-class workers found more affordable artists to do the job and portrait paintings started to become the norm in every household.

A Unique Piece of Art Just for You

It’s pretty easy to quickly snap a photo of yourself today with new phone technology and selfie-sticks. So when capturing a photo is so easy, it makes a personal portrait that much more special. 

Nowadays, who has a painted portrait? Not many.

Having a portrait hanging in your home is a wonderful conversation piece for when visitors come over. It’s also wonderful to look at everyday in your own home! So when everyone has framed photos, why not get something especially unique to you and get a painted portrait?


Today, portrait paintings are still popular for government officials, corporations, and families alike.

Lucky for you, having a portrait done doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Instapainting makes portraits very affordable and provides you with a fun keepsake you get to treasure forever. 

Not to mention, with today’s technology, you have the option of having your portrait done in a number of different mediums. You have the choice of modern art, oil paintings, drawings, watercolor, and more! Instapainting will take the photo you provide and the design you hope for and match it to the perfect artist to create something unique.