top of page


Titian Portrait competition
Titian Portrait competition
Titian Portrait competition



Deadline - January 31, 2024


FIRST ROUND - February 1st-15th, 2024 

LAST ROUND - February 15th-28th, 2024

Artistic Portrait

The Rise, Fall and Change of Portrait Painting
in the Five Centuries from Titian to Contemporary Times

"For me, the painting is the character book"

——— Lucian Freud


The history of human portraiture can be traced back to the ancient civilization in prehistoric times. However, in the late sixteenth century, Titian, the greatest painter of the Renaissance and an important member of the Venetian School, pushed portraiture to an unprecedented height. His creative approach to painting, especially the use of light and color, as well as loose brushwork and subtle tones, had an extremely profound influence not only on Italian late Renaissance painters, but also on later generations of Western artists. The Renaissance historian Giorgio Vasari defined Titian as "the unrivaled touchstone and the ideal peak in the framework of the general vision of painting art”; Italian painter and writer in the Venetian Baroque period Marco Boschini also pointed out: “Titian stood out among so many outstanding painters because of his exceptional color palette, his always free and creative technique, the palpitations in his brushstrokes, the vividness of skin tones, fabrics and surfaces, the naturalness of landscapes…"

Titian's bold use of color, while combining classical painting with new forms and techniques, audacious innovation in portraiture, and focusing on the effect of light on color effects, directly influenced Velazquez, Rubens and other later artists and spread his influence to Europe, and the rest of the world.

Today, more than 500 years after Titian's birth, portraiture has changed from simply capturing and expressing the physical traits of the characters in the early days and serving the privileges of the church, royal families and other aristocrats to providing people with identity and cultural connection. Identifying and revealing the full spectrum of one's family, class, gender, race, religion, culture or nationality way of life, thus reflecting an individual's cultural, psychological and broad social background.

The rise, fall and changes of portraits in the five centuries from Titian to contemporary times also reflect the progress and changes of human society from the artistic field. It also greatly enriches the expression form of portrait painting. Nevertheless, the method of observing and representing the world used in Titian's time Mimesis is still used by visual artists even today in the 21st century.

In Renaissance art, the act of reproducing reality in sculpture, painting, and Theater is called "imitation." Aristotle interpreted it as the imitation of nature in classical art. "Imitation" in painting is not just a simple copy of the objective world, but a re-creation ability of the artist, which is the essential way of expressing human behavior through art. In Plato's worldview, the world we live in is a faint imitation of reality. Therefore, imitation leaves endless expression space for realistic art, which also provides a broad field and infinite possibilities for the contemporary existence of figurative realistic art. Dr. Caroline Antherieux pointed out in the article "Renaissance and Imitation: A New Paradigm of Painting" that imitation is a new way of seeing what appeared in the Renaissance, it is not just a simple technique and perspective, which represents the human perception of reality…"

We hope that this competition will become a base for communication and learning of portrait painters and portrait lovers from all over the world. What we need to emphasize is that all the works in the Titian International Portrait Competition are figurative. In fact, this art competition is also the most direct support and response to the revival and return of figurative painting in the 21st century. One of the greatest influences of modernism on contemporary art was the critique of the pure representation of social reality, however, contemporary portrait art responds to identity, gender, race, and , security and conflict and other focal social issues.

This competition is also a tribute to the art organizations that have actively promoted realism since the last century: Northern Realism (Noardlike realisten Netherlands), Madrid Realists (Realistas de Madrid Spain), London School of Painting (L'école de Londres), Hyperrealism.


How do we define portraiture today? What is portraiture in the context of contemporary art? What is its purpose, if any? With the expansion of photography, smartphones and social media, the primary function of portraiture has become irrelevant, yet portraiture survives, thrives and is active in the contemporary art world. The art critic Sebastian Smee  said about Lucian Freud's portraits: “Freud’s great contribution to the idea of portraiture . . . is not so much about “penetrating character” or illustrating personality traits; it is about the strongest possible presentation of a specific human presence”. 

Could this be a new definition of portraiture? The need to engage with the spectator through a presence?  We hope that this competition will be an open venue for discussing portraiture today and its contribution to the contemporary art scene, as well as the exploration of various influences in terms of visual language and political context!

Sculptures in Rows
Application Rules 
painting and sculpture open call
bottom of page