From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Fancy portrait is an art historical term for an imaginary portrait of a real or literary character. The fancy portrait takes the form of a conventional portrait but is defined by the fact that its depiction of the character is derived from the artist's imagination rather than any authentic record of the person's physical appearance. Though imaginary portraits of historical characters have existed since antiquity, the term came into use in the nineteenth century, when "portraits" of literary characters became popular, and were widely reproduced in the form of engravings. It was also applied commonly to humorous caricatures and later to portrait photographs (in the work of Julia Margaret Cameron for example) in which the subjects adopt imaginary personas.
Retrospective portraits is the title of a Wikimedia category containing "portrait of a person (usually a king from royal family gallery) who lived long before the creation of portrait, and the author of artwork hadn't any lifetime images of person at all for use as a source. So [the] portrait turned out absolutely imaginary." .
As of June 2013, the category featured such works as:
- Imaginary portrait of the Marquis de Sade
- Vanessa (Millais painting)
- Imaginary portrait of Hipponax, from the "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum
- The "portrait" of Theophrastus