• Offered by School of Art
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Art History
  • Areas of interest Art History
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

This course will examine the history and theory of portraiture. A diverse range of images will be discussed from Egyptian funerary portraits through to modern and contemporary likenesses. Alongside large oil paintings and monumental sculpture, the course will include the study of coins, miniatures, silhouettes, photographs, prints and caricatures. The major figures in the history of portraiture, such as Van Eyck, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Hals, Rubens, Rembrandt, Velásquez, Holbein, Goya, Ingres, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Picasso and Bacon will all be included. We will also utilise local collections and will study Australian portraiture.  A range of challenging concerns and issues will be addressed:  such as likeness and truth; concepts of beauty; memory and commemoration; identity and the projection of self; portraiture and it relationship to class, race and gender struggles. We will also explore the curatorial and exhibition practices surrounding portraiture, especially the formation and role of National Portrait Galleries.      

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements for this course, students will have an in-depth understanding of the history and theories surrounding portraiture and the ability to anlayse the complexities of portrait conventions.


Indicative Assessment

Oral presentation and visual analysis (30%); research essay (40%); end of semester visual test (20%); and tutorial participation (10%).

Passing the course is conditional on satisfactory tutorial attendance.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Contact hours include 3 hours per week in lectures and tutorials.

Attendance is on campus but with many tutorials held off campus.

Students are expected to complete an average of 5 hours per week outside of these contact hours.


Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 36 units of ANU courses towards a degree, or with the permission of the convenor.

Preliminary Reading


Harry Berger, ‘Fictions of the pose: facing the gaze in early Modern portraiture', Representations, Spring, 1994, pp. 87-120

Richard Brilliant, Portraiture, London: Reaktion Books, 1991

Shearer West, Portraiture, Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2004

Assumed Knowledge

A basic understanding of the history of art and experience in researching and analysing art objects.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

There are no current offerings for this course.

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions