Biggest isn't always best

Aside from choosing a portrait that you totally and utterly fall in love with, the most important thing to consider is the actual size of the portrait.

Herry Lawford    via Flickr

Herry Lawford via Flickr

Historically portraits were presented life size - so a full length portrait would be the actual height of the person being painted, or if it were a head and shoulder, the same size as their head and so forth. Great when you have a stately home to display the portrait in, not so good for most modern homes!

Your portrait will be displayed in your home for years to come, so it’s crucial we find the most appropriate size to show off that portrait to best effect. Bigger is not always best.

If you have a portrait where the people are full length, then having that portrait printed at say 20 inches will make the faces far too small to enjoy. The opposite would be true on a really strong tight crop on someones face. That type of portrait at 50 inches would be very ‘in your face’ (unless you had a giant room to place it in), or you wanted to make a real statement.

As a general rule, the larger the room, the more appropriate a larger portrait. The smaller the room, a smaller portrait would be appropriate. Most modern living rooms are suited to 30in and 40in portraits. I find this is a good balance between having a portrait with impact where you can enjoy the image from across the room, but not so large as to dominate everything else.


Here at the studio I use a very clever piece of software that allows you to see your portraits in actual size. This means you can take all the guesswork out of deciding which size works best for your portrait and where it’s going to be displayed. You can also see how it will look with the various frame options available. Simple, easy and ensuring your portrait will look stunning displayed in your home.

Usually it’s best if you can display your portrait without any other pictures around it. Galleries are an exception to this, but even they will make sure that exceptional works of art are placed where they can be best enjoyed without other pictures intruding into their space.

Remember, we’re looking for an appropriate size for your portrait, not big or small, but appropriate.