Portraits Portraiture is a very old art form going back at least to ancient Egypt, where it flourished from about 5,000 years ago. Portraits have always been more than just a record. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. They have been used to show the power, importance, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning or other qualities of the sitter. A portrait says who you are, not what you look like!!