As far back as I can remember I have been drawn to the mysterious allure of vintage portraits. There’s something thrillingly intimate about having an anonymous likeness of someone from the past just hanging about your home. There is also a well-documented rumour in my family of an enormous oil painting of my maternal great-great-grandparents languishing in the archives of the romantic Victoria Memorial in Calcutta (this was once hung in the ballroom). I can only imagine how incredible this would look if it ever found its way into my home…
The trend for vintage portraits is becoming more popular than ever – the above is one of this year’s Pinterest’s most pinned and my favourite interior for years – it’s a beautiful kitchen design by Devol Kitchens – with a surprising styling choice – oil paintings in the kitchen! Vintage portraits can inject incredible character into a space – but if you don’t fancy rooting around in a vintage shop for a whole weekend then there are a few handier ways to achieve this look…
You could have a resplendent portrait of Queen Elizabeth I above your fireplace, a stoic impression of a Maharaja above your dining table, or a grouping of details from cleverly zoomed in Dutch Master paintings like the detail taken from a full length Holbein below. Surface View an online image platform creates bespoke products – from blinds to prints and murals using extraordinary images from gallery archives like the V&A, The National Gallery and The British Library amongst many others. A framed 40x50cm print like the below of Christina of Denmark is priced at £175.
A design favourite these modern Gothic trays from French company Ibride can double as old masters style paintings with a contemporary finish and feature surrealist portraits of women and animals. Crafted from high pressure laminate with ornate laser-cut detailing, the large trays come in sizes up to 65cm and priced at £120 for the largest size – perfect for a modern gallery wall.
British design brand Mineheart create wonderfully eccentric portraits by mixing classical ideas in new and unexpected ways like French Queen’s with delightfully grafitti-d faces and modern twists on Dutch paintings,
It’s no surprise that The National Portrait Gallery Shop is a treasure trove for art prints of this kind. Delightfully affordable you will find iconic portraits priced between £15-£45 from small to large.
Finally Lassco, is an institution in the reclamation industry and London’s best known architectural antiques company. You can go down and search the annals of their glorious warehouses around London or you can shop their extensive collections in the comfort of your home. Here you will find genuine and gorgeous antique artworks like this French portrait of a Lady wearing a bonnet circa 1836. This beauty will set you back £1,1000. How charming?
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org