House Portraits

House Portraits are an artist’s conception of a home or residence. For decades people have enjoyed having a work of art that is their home.


At the end of World War II was the advent of the greatest sweep of residential home construction in American History. Prior to the war most people rented apartments in the city but with the end of the war came the baby-boom and the need for more family space increased. Also banks developed new lending practices because of the VA loans offered to new veterans coming home from the war. So what you have here is a sudden thrust of home construction and the development of the modern suburb that forms a ring around major metropolitan areas.


Now the American Dream had come true and millions of young families were able to buy or build a new home. With such strong sentiment and hard work that goes into acquiring a home many couples would commission an artist to do a house portrait and prominently display in their new home.


There are many types of house portraits such as watercolors, pen & ink, tempera, quash, and sepia. The two most popular are the watercolors and pen & ink. With the advent of color photography since the 1960’s homeowners were able to take color photos of their home and give it to the artist to paint. Most often the portraits are in a small size that is easy to place on a wall (usually near the entry). There are some very rare occasions where wealthy client’s can afford to have an artist come into their home and do a mural on the living-room or dining-room walls!


Realtors soon took notice of this growing market and started to have artists do house portraits as closing gifts for their clients. This practice has served the Realtors very well for the clients always take the work of art that they have just received and hang it in their new home and gladly share with their friends who gave it to them, a great source of referrals for the agents!


A close relative to the house portrait is the architectural rendering. Architects have used renderings for years as images of their new designs that they could display at Appearance Review Commissions and Bank meetings. However, the main difference between the house portrait and architectural rendering is the use of perspective lines and mechanical pens and pencils. These tools though very good at making precise drawings and illustrations lack an aesthetic dimension due to their imagery since they are bound to the rules of perspective.