Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Pose, Old School Style

I was looking through a book on Old Master portraiture the other day and found myself completely fascinated by the way everybody posed back then. Their body language, their relationship with the person painting them (and by extension, the viewer) -- every detail was choreographed to reveal as much as possible about their personality. I wondered, were there standard "go-to" poses that still hold true today?

Why yes. There are. :)

1. The School of Superiority

(1580. King James I by Arnold Van Brounckhorst.)

Overall Attitude:
"Don't even."

Works Best if:
You are extremely confident.

To make both the photographer and the viewer feel that they're not worthy.

Chief Characteristics:
Stony gaze. Arched eyebrows.
Angled hand draws attention to minuteness of waist.

(2012. Via The Sartorialist.)

2. The School of Vulnerability
(1626-1627. Rembrandt, "A Bust of a Man in a Gorget and Cap.")

Overall Attitude:
"Don't look at me. No, look at me."

Works Best If:
You want to project strength with a side of vulnerability.

To present a conflicting duality of character, both a reluctance to be
the subject and at the same time satisfy a desire for attention.

Defining Characteristics:
Body in profile, but head turned forward to engage viewer. Gaze is direct but wary.
(2011. Daphne Guinness by Saga Sig, via here.)

3. The School of Lust

(Artist unknown.)

Overall Attitude:
"I think you know what I want."

Works Best If:
You are slightly drunk.

To telegraph your core message: I. Want. You. Now.

Defining Characteristics:
Head slightly tilted. Lips apart. Direct gaze.
Wide-brimmed hat throws features into shadow.

(2011. Photo by Saga Sig, via here.)

4. The School of Vermeer
(1669. "The Geographer" by Vermeer.)

Overall Attitude:
"Now where was I...?"

Works Best If:
You are being cajoled into posing for a picture.

To make the subject appear deep/lost in thought.

Chief Characteristics:
Always near a window so face can be lit by half-light. Deep contemplation.
Seemingly oblivious to photographer.

(2011. Kate Spade via The Selby.)

(2012. David Netto by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.)

5. The School of Reluctance

(c. 1600. Portrait of King James I. Artist unknown.)

Overall Attitude:
"How long do I have to sit here?"

Works Best If:
You have a nation to rule/bicycle to ride.

To convey impatience.
"You said this wouldn't take long."

Defining Characteristics:
Head propped up by hand. World-weary attitude.
The moodier the background, the better. Facial hair a plus.

(2012. Piero by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.)

Creative Exercise: Why not try to recreate one of the following poses on your own?

(1743. Jacques Louis David. Portrait of Monsieur Lavoisier and his wife.)

(1791. Jacques-Louis David. "Portrait of Madame Trudaine.")

(1609. Peter Paul Rubens. "The Artist and his Wife".)

(1630. Franz Hals. Portrait of Willem Van Heythuysen.)

(1842. Ingres, "Cherubimi.")


little pink cakes said...

I really enjoyed this post - creative, funny and inspiring!

Thank you for making me smile :)

Modern Traditionalist said...

This was the best way to start my day; thank you! In your honor, I will recreate "Portrait of Monsieur Lavoisier and his wife" by Jacques Louis David next month at my wedding.


pve design said...

My old school photo was in fact inspired by "A girl with a Pearl Earring" - ver Meer.
My next photo will have a decidedly more modern take.

mimi berlin blogger team said...

love your post !!!

Tricia Rose said...

Too true! Although to me the second image shows a girl either protecting herself or pregnant. I suppose I'll never know...

Olga Roth said...

That was hilarious! Loved it!

Lily said...

Oh Lisa, I loved this post, as it is So terribly pertinent... I'm having my portrait painted by a dear friend and fascinating artist who uses the Old Master Techniques and it has been such an amazing experience and education! I fidget and she reprimands and in between I watch the thin layers of paint (with gorgeous names like Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Magenta) translate flesh tones and embroidery and peacock feathers. I wrote of it in my blog...
I's definitely sorcerer's work, capturing the essence of someone.

materfamilias said...

Such an entertaining distraction from marking student papers -- thank you!

Jane said...

hi Lisa. Fantastic and thank you.

And doesn't Piero look a bit Rembrandt-esque at the moment?

debbie bailey said...

You've inspired me to try this. I'm tired of the usual poses and would love to try something different. Your photo of your husband is just great. He looks like a model. You may tell him I said that!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I loved all your examples, made me laugh and then ponder which type of poser I'd want to be and for some reson I'm thinking #1, but I'd probably get the giggles before getting through it!

Joanna said...

I adore this post. So clever and well done!

Meredith said...

I love it when my first click of the day uncovers a great blog post! A little art history, a little humor...what's not to love...

Cheers -
Meredith at Tuscan Blue Design

Hels said...

One of your paintings looks like The Girl with the Red Hat by Johannes Vermeer, only boozier and racier. Would Vermeer have approved?

kathy peck said...

What a brilliant post - going to start paying more attention to poses after this one!

VictoriaArt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VictoriaArt said...

I often wonder about poses in pictures, the way we want to be seen, or for certain reasons the painter /photographer wants us to be seen. There as many messages and you captured them in such an amusing, but surely often true way!
Love the idea of recreating old school photos!
I have done this with still lifes.
A wonderful post, Lisa!

Mrs. Sutton said...

LOVE this post - beautiful images, and brilliant commentary. I will definitely study modern portraiture a little more closely now - very amusing!

lsellers said...


Diane James Home said...

So clever, Lisa, and such fun to read during a quick break from the mundane! If my husband were to choose, he would go with the artist and his wife pose - he, sitting higher up with confidence, me, with a slight blush and a protective hand over his. For me, the Jacques Louis David speaks volume about us at this moment - he, using the kitchen and the dining room table as his desk, papers strewn all over, while I am leaning over his shoulder (again!) with an air of despair thinking "oh when are you going to move your ---- up to the office and leave me in peace!". XO, Cynthia

Bumble at home said...

So loved your de-coding 'the pose' adds another whole dimension to looking at Vogue etc and gives one a bit of a giggle to think the dropped hip and downward glance have been around longer than the dreaded red carpet.

noreen said...

beautiful old art, and the match-ups are interesting! art is like vitamins, and translating it makes it so much more interesting. thank you!

hong kong property said...

this is such an entertaining read. i love how you compared the old images to modern ones=)

Hong Kong property

House of Hemingway said...

I was at the Kimbell Art museum just yesterday morning looking at the current Impressionism exhibit. Many Renoirs, Monets, and Pissaros. I was so in trance looking at each piece carefully and always drawn to the detail in poses. I totally want to do a photo shoot imitating some of my favorite poses! I'm going to do it!

Betze said...

You are HYSTERICAL! Loved the "Don't look at me. No, look at me."

Beauté Camp said...

This made me giggle!

great post!

Joanna said...

I read this post Monday and have been meaning to comment ever since. It reminds me of a book I recently read called England's Mistress by Kate Williams. It's about Lady Hamilton, who becomes famous as a model for painters Joshua Reynolds and George Romney in the 18th century. She becomes famous for her classical poses. She even gives private shows of her "attitudes". Thanks for the the fascinating post.

Tavarua said...

Greetings from the old world...Ireland at the moment...
Brilliant Post...

NotesFromAbroad said...

Laughed out loud, darling !
I really enjoyed this, besos, C

quintessence said...

Wonderful fun post!! Had me nodding and laughing out loud at the same time! So pleased that I have found my way back here!

Joad said...

Very funny ... and really quite instructive. Thank you.

Saieef ahmdya said...

Good post and Smart Blog
Thanks for your good information and i hope to subscribe and visit my blog Ancient Greece and more Ancient Greece for Kids thanks again admin

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Plus ca change...

bindu priya said...

A truly motivational and life changing book
"ONE BOOK FOR LIFE SUCCESS" .The writer has described in Plain English with lot of examples which is easy to understand...For More
Please watch the video

steve7876 said...

Hi have to admit that sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words, but thanks for a great interview with talented and gorgeous David Netto, what an attractive discovery he is. galapagosholidays

steve7876 said...

This topic is the one that I have been looking into from last 3 days and your insight is extremely useful. Thanks for sharing this information. Utdrikningslag oslo

shahbaz said...

I have to confess that I like the Sith warrior jump a lot less than the Jedi version. I can't say why exactly, I just know that the Jedi leap animation feels a lot more "right" to me. halong bay

shahbaz said...

I really needed the information that you gave on this topic because I had to finish my project on this topic and now I have completed it and I am gonna submit it,, team building

shahbaz said...

A big thing to avoid while working on your fitness is sugar. There is now a great sugar substitute that is actually healthy for you. Watercolor real estate

shahbaz said...

I really thank you for the valuable info on this great subject and look forward to more great posts. Thanks a lot for enjoying this beauty article with me. I am appreciating it very much! Looking forward to another great article. 2016 Honda Pilot

shahbaz said...

I don't be sorry that spent a few of minutes for reading. Write more often, surely’ll come to read amazing new.dolor de cabeza

shahbaz said...

In addition, numerous young women which become pregnant don’t even try and get health care insurance because they are concerned they would not qualify.

steve7876 said...

What could you possibly ever need help with! I get inspired by you! Tonight I'm going to try to make this. Looks so delicious, and healthy too! Lithium polymer battery discussion

shahbaz said...

Festival highlights the best and brightest upcoming stars of musical theatre..vietnam tours

steve7876 said...

Gosh, you just couldn't tell me how to make my classroom student-centered. :) Now, I have to do my own research to discover what student-centered classrooms are all about. This sounds like a blog-reader-centered post. Legal

steve7876 said...

Very nice I accept as true with your thoughts. Many thanks a great deal I’ve benefited therefore usually I’ll visit your website. marketing directory

shahbaz said...

Really very good and brilliant ideas about Speech. I am really like your talk program. Thanks usedom ferienwohnung

shahbaz said...

To be free of the bad health effects of chlorine, doctors recommend that you Shower with Natural Action Water. It is like floating in pure springwater.

steve7876 said...

I think this is definitely a great way to create these flyers here. So much that you can get from using and passing out these flyers here. So much good advertising comes from it.china post track

steve7876 said...

This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things.biji plastik

steve7876 said...

I think this is definitely a great way to create these flyers here. So much that you can get from using and passing out these flyers here. So much good advertising comes from it.Airport car service atlanta

steve7876 said...

Gosh, you just couldn't tell me how to make my classroom student-centered. :) Now, I have to do my own research to discover what student-centered classrooms are all about. This sounds like a blog-reader-centered post.holidays to costa rica

steve7876 said...

I think this is definitely a great way to create these flyers here. So much that you can get from using and passing out these flyers here. So much good advertising comes from it. Change Management Models

Sapnudin d said...

Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful. Obat Radang Usus Besar Herbal Obat Sirosis Hati Herbal Obat Emfisema Herbal Obat Asbestosis Herbal Obat Sinusitis Herbal
Thank you very much has been sharing the information very helpfull

Erwin Sutsen said...

Thank you so much for the insights

pengobatan tradisional perut kembung dan begah

ciri ciri penderita penyakit kelenjar tiroid

ciri ciri penderita penyakit asam lambung

cara menghilangkan batu empedu selain operasi

Fikri Ferdiansyah said...

Nice post. I leaгn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily bɑsis.Penyebab Susah Buang Air Kecil
It will always bе intereѕting to read thrߋugh artiϲles from other ѡriters аnd use a little something from their websіtes. Penyebab Kista Ovarium Serta Gejala

Libra Ria said...

congratulations Tuesday morning always successful aminn Cara Herbal Mengobati Sakit Pinggang Tradisional
Cara Alami Mengobati Asam Urat Tradisional
Cara Herbal Mengobati Stroke Tradisional
Cara Alami Mengobati Osteoporosis Tradisional

okta ria said...

always successful aminn

Pengobatan Alternatif Wasir Secara Alami
Racikan Obat Tradisional Gondok Secara Alami
Obat Kardiomiopati Tradisional | Obat Kolik Herbal

tradisional nha said...

hopefully useful for the many posts so in the waiting more info have funPengobatan Herbal Infeksi Lambung
Pengobatan Tradisional Kanker Paru Paru
Terapi Obat Herbal Kanker Prostat Terbaru
Obat Sakit Ulu Hati Dan Maag

Chang bui thi said...

Thanks for sharing. I hope it will be helpful for too many people that are searching for this topic.
friv , games2girls , juegos de frozen , kids games online , friv 2 , jogos do friv , , juegos de matar zombbies
, unblocked games , juegos de un show mas

nhi green said...

Ramuan Obat Tradisional Gagal Ginjal

Pengobatan Tradisional Ejakulasi Dini

Green World Global Slimming Capsule Berkhasiat 

Pengobatan Tradisional Penghancur Batu Empedu Efektif 

Macam Macam Diabetes Yang Wajib Diketahui

Genies Alan said...

I finally found a blog that can make me happy. it is easy to understand, may remain calm. thanks you author.
obat penghilang bekas luka koreng
cara merawat mata agar tetap sehat
cara menyembuhkan osteoporosis

Genies Alan said...

These blog posts can be addictive, so do not read it. hehe ..
cool blog. hopefully remain successful.
obat untuk konstipasi
cara menyembuhkan GERD
cara menyembuhkan penyakit asma

tranthuhahungyen said...

Thanks for sharing the information. It is very useful for my future. keep sharing
Games for girls|
Kizi 1|
Kizi 2

Elvi Green said...

post very useful in the waiting continues that other survivors run activities on this day ..
Agen Glucoogen Makasar Terbaru
Agen Glucogen Moment Terbaru
Pengobatan Tradisional Kista Ginjal
7 Makanan Sehat Untuk Sendi Kuat

Sapnudin herbal said...

I can feel your content provide for anyone, but your should keep spirit for result amazing masterpiece. Thanks.
cara mengatasi mata berair
cara menyembuhkan radang amandel

Geek Herbal said...

although his blog design mediocre, but the content is very good indeed. I love the contents of the blog. Thank you.
obat untuk menurunkan gula darah
obat untuk konstipasi

thị hậu nguyễn said...

Great informative site. I'm really impressed after reading this blog post. I really appreciate the time and effort you spend to share this with us! I do hope to read more updates from you:))
happy wheels
super mario bros

Nana Itang said...

because some of the articles on this blog, I can get insight about how my job. Thanks writer.
cara mengobati polip hidung

Shahzad Sajjad said...

Informative post it is useful and get the lot of new thing so many information. background checks

Green nha said...

Her unusually interesting information
thank you because you always give us the latest information
good afternoon to all of them good luck

Pengobatan Tradisional Penyakit Stroke Terbaru
Pengobatan Tradisional Mengatasi Kegemukan
Pengobatan Tradisional Alzheimer
Pengobatan Tradisional Asam Urat Yang Efektif

pubsquash John said...

Thanks for sharing the information. It is very useful for my future. keep sharing
Kizi 123|
Friv 234|

bibikafu said...

Thanks for your great article friend, i get new information, new ideas to do somethings, i hope you will share again, i keep waiting for next post, thanks.
Kizi 3
Friv 4


Blog Widget by LinkWithin