A portrait is typically defined as a representation of a specific individual. A portrait does not merely record the features of a person, but it also says something about who the person is, offering a true sense of the person’s presence. Portraits in the 15th century were not paintings in their own right, but instead, important symbols of Christian subjects. European portraiture in the 15th century and throughout the Renaissance took on a much more realistic nature than the paintings for the 13th and 14th century.
A majority of portraits painted during the Renaissance follow one of a very small range of conventional formats. Although they were more three dimensional and realistic than portraits painted early, the methods artists used to paint portraits in the 15th century was rather repetitious. The profile view was frequently adopted in fifteenth century portraiture, as was the three-quarter portrait.
Paintings made to represent Christian imagery could typically be found in churches and were used to provoke thought about religion and give honor to God and the angels. Miniature paintings were often given as gifts of remembrance between family and friends. Portraits of rulers and kings were made to assert their majesty and strength in the form of a painting- these could be found all over the city or country of the ruler in order to assert his dominance over the area. In courtly settings, portraits often had diplomatic significance. Portraits were often commissioned during a significant moment in someone’s life or in an effort to maintain the memory of someone.