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A portrait is a painting, photograph, or other artistic representation of a person. Portraits are often simple "head shots" and are not usually overly elaborate or creative. The intent is to show the basic apperance of the person, and occasionally some artistic insight into his or her personality.

Self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh

The most famous portrait in the world is the Mona Lisa, which is a portrait of a woman of the same name.

When the artist creates a portrait in his or her own image, it is called a self-portrait. Many of the most famous works of artists have been self-portraits.

Portrait photography is a popular commercial industry all over the world. Many people enjoy having professionally-made family portraits to hang in their house, or special portraits to commemorate certain events, such as graduations or weddings.

In politics, portraits of the leader are often used as a symbol of the state. No matter where you are, in most countries it is common protocol for a portrait of the Head of State to appear in important government buildings. When portraits of the leader are used excessively, it becomes a sign of a personality cult.

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In literature the term "portrait" refers to a written description or analysis of a person or thing. A written portrait often gives deep insight, and offers an analysis that goes far beyond the superficial. For example, American author Patricia Cornwell wrote a popular novel intitled Portrait of a Killer about the personality, background, and possible motivations of Jack the Ripper, as well as the media coverage of his murders, and the subsquent police investigation of his crimes.