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Artists have long captured the female subject in portraits, whether as muses, wives, models or lovers. Largely painted by men, for men, these paintings give us clues about the culture, status and fashion of a society.
But times have changed. According to the Royal Society of Portrait Painter-s, women are now commissioning their own portraits.
Status - Careers - Memories - Family - Generations
Many have achieved status in their careers or want memories for family and future generations. Maybe they have survived an illness, married or become a grandmother.
Portraiture can be political, too.
Years - Women - Right - Year - Group
To mark 100 years since some women achieved the right to vote, last year an all-female group of photographers created portraits of all 209 women MPs in Parliament.
Here, three top writers reveal what motivated them . .
Desire - Portrait - Picture - Order - Service
My desire for a portrait began when we were looking for a picture to put on the order of service for my mother’s memorial. There were lots of photographs of her, but the most arresting image, the one that came closest to expressing her vivid complex personality was a watercolour painted by a friend of hers when she was in her 30s.
I realised then that I wanted something equally personal to leave for my children. It sounds macabre, but commissioning the portrait was the moment I came to terms with my mortality.
Daughters - Time - Achievements
I decided to have my daughters, aged 28 and 17, painted at the same time; they are after all, my greatest achievements.
I had known Paul Benney, who has painted so many people from the Queen down, and he had once done a charcoal sketch of me which I love, and now use as my Twitter profile picture.
Something - Eyes
But even though I knew him quite well, there is something almost unbearably intimate about sitting down to be scrutinised minutely through those intense blue eyes. I was fully clothed, but I might as well...
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