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Why We Encourage Life-Sized Portraits


There’s a peculiar magnetism when you stand in front of a life-sized portrait; it’s like a bridge between centuries, a silent conversation between the viewer and the subject. And nowhere is this magic felt more potently than in the hallowed halls of the world's greatest museums.

Consider 1563. The masterful hands of Paolo Veronese crafted what would soon be hailed as one of art history’s most celebrated masterpieces - 'The Wedding of Cana' (pictured above). Originally created for a Venetian monastery, this expansive work of art stretches an impressive 22 feet by 32 1/2 feet, encapsulating 135 life-sized figures within its embrace. Yet, its destiny was irrevocably altered when Napoleon, in his conquest of Venice, seized this unparalleled piece and relocated it to Paris, not out of the Venetians' benevolence, but rather, as a trophy of his dominance. Today, as the Louvre's largest painting, the sheer size of its subjects imparts them with a presence, a lifelike quality, making the viewer feel they've stepped into that very moment, frozen in the brushstrokes of time.

And in an almost poetic juxtaposition, this grand painting shares space in the Louvre’s Salle des États room with another treasure - albeit of a different scale. The 'La Joconde’, or what is more commonly known as the 'Mona Lisa'. Most visitors, upon their first encounter, echo a similar sentiment of surprise at her modest size. At just 21 inches by 30 inches, she’s a mere whisper by comparison. But was this a mere coincidence or a testament to an unspoken rule in art? Both Veronese and Da Vinci, though worlds apart in canvas size, were bound by a singular artistic truth. The 'Mona Lisa', being a bust painting, demanded that precise dimension to capture her life-sized essence. The ethereal aura she emanates is no different from the throng of attendees at the 'Wedding of Cana'. In both masterpieces, the subject(s) are true life sized. 


It’s a captivating revelation: stroll through the opulent corridors of the Louvre, the Prado, the Hermitage, and other monumental repositories of art, and you'll discern this unwavering commitment to the life-sized principle. It isn't a mere artistic guideline; it's an age-old alchemy that breathes life and soul into every brushstroke.


In our studio, this life-size principle evokes profound emotions. To gaze upon a portrait of one's family or child, captured so vividly and realistically as though they were genuinely present when a client commissions us to do a life-sized portrait, is deeply moving. The heartbeat, the memory, the nuances — everything seems alive. The sheer emotional gravity of witnessing a life-sized rendition of a cherished family member, feeling their tangible presence, and cherishing it for eternity is an experience unparalleled.  Each portrait we create, when aligned with this life-size principle, not only emerges as a masterful artwork from our studio but also resonates with the depth, realism, and vitality akin to the masterpieces of the world's greatest painters. This commitment to scale grants an incomparable level of detail and emotion, transforming a fleeting moment into a timeless visual narrative that would be unattainable in smaller dimensions.


About the Author:  Bradford Rowley


Bradford Rowley stands at the helm of Bradford Portraits, a premier luxury portrait studio with esteemed locations in New York, Palm Beach, Miami, and Newport Beach. Distinguished as the only photographer ever to command a $125,000.00 fee for a singular speaking engagement to his peers, Bradford's acclaim extends beyond the camera. His clientele boasts a roll-call of celebrities and eminent personalities. Bradford's exceptional talent led the Smithsonian in Washington DC to seek his work for display. Away from the studio, he cherishes family life with his wife and seven children, residing with the youngest four in South Florida as well as their home along the coast in Peru.  

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