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Portrait Drawings For Sale

Browse portrait drawings for sale on our online gallery and explore our extensive selection of styles, ranging from expressionistic portrait drawings to cartoons to illustrative portraits. Shop today and find the perfect contemporary portrait drawing for your home or office.

About the artists

Fatola Israel's emotive portrait drawings demonstrate how the medium’s softness lends itself well to the study of social issues. In his hyper-real style, the award-winning pencil artist who studied in Nigeria, explores humankind’s struggle within society. Captivity captures an intimate close up of a man behind bars, while “Mojisola” documents an entirely different emotion: hope.

The work of acclaimed artist Nelson Makamo, winner of the 2018 Rise Art Prize, highlights individuality and celebrates society in his native South Africa. The large-scale charcoal drawing, In My Skin sees a young boy standing as if exposed, charged with a self-consciousness recognisable amongst pre-teens. Beauty captures his subject less directly, zooming in to the sitter from the side, his features composed from spontaneous marks and scrawled words.

Lee Ellis uses his portrait drawings to create a darker sense of intimacy, using his figures’ warped features to hint at an inner landscapes of psychological torture. The scratched surface of Cheese Before Bed 11 creates a sense of emotional angst. Ellis’ distinctive figures are repeated throughout the rest of his nightmarish Cheese Before Bed series.

Hyper-realistic artist Kelvin Okafor gained recognition drawing portraits with pencil, graphite and charcoal. These are not just realistic portraits, though; Okafor aims to draw out each subject’s humanity and personal story, also known as Emotional Realism. Okafor draws his subjects front-on, addressing the viewer with a defiant stare.

An Intimate Art Form

The history of portrait drawing is intertwined with that of portraiture. However, unlike portrait paintings which have evolved according to the style of the day, portrait drawings have remained a timeless way to intimately explore an individual.

There has long been a fascination with portrait drawings of well-known figures, reflecting a desire to strip them back to their core. Augustus John sketched T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in both London and Paris. At the time Lawrence sat for John, between 1919 and 1923, the archaeologist and military officer was a household name and John’s drawings of him sold for good money. Commenting on this fact, Lawrence wrote to John: “What do artists' models of the best sort fetch per hour (or perhaps per job)... it seems to me that I have a future...”

Unlike John’s paintings of Lawrence which can be considered fairly formal, the quick portrait drawings show a different side to the sitter. A two-minute sketch drawn at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, shows a more vulnerable Lawrence than the public were perhaps used to - a figure engulfed by his robes, hunched and small.

The intimacy of portrait drawings can reveal a side to a person’s personality that is often edited out from official portraits. In Paul Emsley’s final painting of the Duchess of Cambridge, she appears demure and regal. But in Emsley’s portrait drawings, her gaze is fierce and challenging. Studies of modern politicians, such as Diane Abbott by Stuart Pearson Wright and Ken Livingstone by Andrew Tift, show a softer side to these public figures.

Since 1990, there has been a revival of interest in portrait drawings among contemporary artists, who are drawn to the art form for its intimacy. Matthew Carr’s 2008 portrait drawing of novelist Sebastian Faulks, for example, hints at a sort of existential crisis in the sitter, as we see a floating head in pencil, marooned on the empty page.

Preparatory or Stand-Alone Portraits

Self-portrait drawings offer artists an impulsive method of self-examination. Stanley Spencer’s 1913 self-portrait drawing is sketched onto paper that had previously been used, hinting either at spontaneity or an attempt to weave studio materials into his self-portrait. The piece is thought to be in preparation for his self-portrait painting completed the following year and the drawing shares the same intense stare he later depicted in oil.

However not all portrait drawings exist only as studies in preparation for grander works in painting or sculpture. Frank Auerbach churned over his drawings of Estella (Stella) West, who posed for him between 1950 and the 1970s. Head of E.O.W. took almost 70 sittings and as a result of the artist’s constant drawing and erasing, the paper is torn and patched.

Find out more in our Guide To Drawings.

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    showing 556 pieces
    Gasoline by Anna Sofie Jespersen
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    Gasoline by Anna Sofie Jespersen

    Gasoline

    Drawings - 209x151 cm
    Untitled by Nelson Makamo
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    Untitled by Nelson Makamo

    Untitled

    Drawings - 70x100 cm
    Woman/Boat 18 by Susannah Douglas
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    Woman/Boat 18 by Susannah Douglas

    Woman/Boat 18

    Drawings - 26x26 cmRent for $70 /mo
    Roi by Tatiana Ivchenkova
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    Roi by Tatiana Ivchenkova

    Roi

    Drawings - 55x38 cm
    No one is looking by Jack Hughes
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    No one is looking by Jack Hughes

    No one is looking

    Drawings - 14x22 cmRent for $34 /mo
    NU assise aiko by Maude Ovize
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    NU assise aiko by Maude Ovize

    NU assise aiko

    Drawings - 49x69 cm
    Abstract Head No. 15 by Gregory Malphurs
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    Abstract Head No. 15 by Gregory Malphurs

    Abstract Head No. 15

    Drawings - 41x31 cm
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    un regard vers la droite by Nina Urlichs

    un regard vers la droite

    Drawings - 70x50 cm
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    Kayla  by Tony Girolo

    Kayla

    Drawings - 61x46 cm
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    Danseuse bleue by Tatiana Ivchenkova

    Danseuse bleue

    Drawings - 70x50 cm

    Ankle Socks

    Drawings - 370x180 cm
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    Woman in a Room by Randy Klinger

    Woman in a Room

    Drawings - 46x56 cmRent for $190 /mo
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    Talkshow by Anna Sofie Jespersen

    Talkshow

    Drawings - 205x350 cm
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    Série -  Portraits by Sarah Aissa

    Série - Portraits

    Drawings - 21x21 cm
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    Bulbs 2 by Yana Medow

    Bulbs 2

    Drawings - 55x46 cm
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    MAGNESIE by Alain Rouschmeyer

    MAGNESIE

    Drawings - 33x33 cm
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    Untitled by Nelson Makamo

    Untitled

    Drawings - 100x70 cm
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    Boy Still 2 (cute boy cools off in water) by Susannah Douglas

    Boy Still 2 (cute boy cools off in water)

    Drawings - 25x29 cmRent for $72 /mo
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    The Collector and The Artist by Habib Hajallie

    The Collector and The Artist

    Drawings - 59x84 cmRent for $1,115 /mo
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    Untitled #11 (from the series Solar Caress) by Pak Keung Wan

    Untitled #11 (from the series Solar Caress)

    Drawings - 9x14 cmRent for $55 /mo
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    The Dinner by Chris Shaw Hughes

    The Dinner

    Drawings - 42x59 cmRent for $195 /mo
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    Father In Time by Fatola Israel

    Father In Time

    Drawings - 71x52 cm

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