Are Today’s Portraitists Better Than the Old Masters?

Who's better, today's portraitists or the Old Masters?

Master portraitist Kevin Murphy honors the Old Masters and applauds the contemporary realistic portrait painters and artists of the 21st Century who have taken on the legacy that the old masters left behind.

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer by Rembrandt, one of the old masters of portrait art.

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer by Rembrandt, is one of the revered old masters of portrait art.

The Young Shepherdess by The Young Shepherdess - William-Adolphe Bougereau, painted in 1855.

The Young Shepherdess by The Young Shepherdess - William-Adolphe Bougereau, painted in 1855.

Madame X by the renown portraitist John Singer Sargent.

Madame X by the renown portraitist John Singer Sargent.

Ketsia in Profile by contemporary portraitist Daniel Sprick.

Ketsia in Profile by contemporary portraitist Daniel Sprick.

We asked Master Portraitist and Evolve Founder Kevin Murphy, “Who is your favorite portrait artist and why?” Here’s what he had to say:

"I don't have a favorite. There are so many great portrait painters out there.  And not just old masters, but even today.

I would make the assertion that the portrait painters of today are better than the old masters. They may not agree. Because we're not inventing it." 

Self Portrait by Nelson Shanks.

Self Portrait by Nelson Shanks.

Beauties on Promenade by Chen Yifei

Beauties on Promenade by Chen Yifei.

A portrait of the Grand Master Sardone by Evolve Artist Founder and master portraitist Kevin Murphy.

A portrait of the Grand Master Sardone by Evolve Artist Founder and master portraitist Kevin Murphy

"The old masters did all the hard work and heavy lifting. We stand on their shoulders. But the level of skill and the level to which this craft has been elevated by the current generation is just dizzying. And to be part of that crowd is humbling."

A painting from Steven Assael's workshop.

A painting from Steven Assael's workshop.

Prove It by Rick Berry.

Prove It by Rick Berry.

From the Depths by Adam Miller.

From the Depths by Adam Miller.

Pegasus Befriends the Muses by Julie Bell.

Pegasus Befriends the Muses by Julie Bell.

Star Wars The Last Jedi by Paul Shipper.

Star Wars The Last Jedi by Paul Shipper.

"I think that there are so many great artists, and they're not even necessarily realists.  They're in all genres including science fiction artists or doing book covers and movie posters. And they look real. They don't even look like photographs. They look absolutely real." 

Naomi Alexander by Rupert Alexander.

Naomi Alexander by Rupert Alexander.

Laura in Black by Joshua La Rock.

Laura in Black by Joshua La Rock.

Audrey by David Kassan.

Audrey by David Kassan.

Autumn Sky by Jeremy Lipking

Autumn Sky by Jeremy Lipking.

Bubble by Dorian Vallejo

Bubble by Dorian Vallejo.

"In every corner of this industry, any place where pros are painting faces, the quality of the work is just unbelievable. Yes, we have technology on our side, but the people who are going back and tackling this stuff in a traditional way, they've elevated this craft to a whole new level." 

Weary Memory by Alex Venezia

Weary Memory by Alex Venezia.

Waves by Serge Marshennikov.

Waves by Serge Marshennikov.

Narcissus by Roberto Ferri.

Narcissus by Roberto Ferri.

Which artists have inspired you to paint like the great masters?



Conclusion

There’s your master's take on portrait artists new and old. This is the last post from our Master's Guide to Painting Better Portraits series. Read the previous posts in the series at these links below:

Master's Guide #1: Where to Start a Portrait
Master's Guide #2: Simplicity in Portrait Painting
Master's Guide #3: How to Build Confidence in Portrait Painting
Master's Guide #4: How to Capture the Likeness of a Face
Master's Guide #5: The Quickest Way to Improve Your Portrait Painting Skills
Master's Guide #6: How to Price Portrait Paintings
Master's Guide #7: How to Sell Your Portraits

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Happy painting!


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