French art movement of the late 19th century that, inspired by scientific knowledges about the physical compositions of colours, tried to render them in an exact as possible way. To this purpose the impressionists went into nature (plein-air-painting), to catch their subjects as they were. The surrounding light conditions let contours blur and the visual impression prevails (Atomization of the objective world).
The portrait emphasizes the individual features (of a certain person) or the typical features (the depicted person as representative of his class or estate). At the beginning of the portrait painting there was the whole figure, then the restriction to the upper half of the person followed (half-figure) and finally to the face (bust portrait). Profile and front view are the common forms of presentation. Until the 14th century the individual effigy was of less importance – portraits were symbols of an office or an estate represented by the depicted person. The emphasis on the true physiognomic composition of a face, thus the “discovery of the individual” in fine arts is due to Renaissance.