Books on formal portraiture have been thin on the ground for a good number of years. There’s a good reason for this: the stuffed shirt has largely gone out of fashion and even studio portraits of the great and the good have a more relaxed feel to them. People want you to look at them and not the office or the regalia (even if they really do want you to look at the regalia).
But that’s over here. In America, it’s more about success and having arrived and, from the works illustrated here, it’s clear that set features, good clothing and a solid background are still de rigueur. All that’s a way of getting towards saying that you’d never mistake this for anything other than an American book. I don’t mean (as I often do) that it’s full of cowboys or rugged-faced pioneers, it’s just that there’s a set of the face and a way of dress that announces it as clearly as an Old Glory hanging off the front porch.
Having got all that out of the way, let’s say that this is an excellent book. There’s a wide variety of subjects, male, female, young, old, and of settings and backgrounds. The text is concise and to the point and there are very helpful palette notes as well as demonstrations that work through the conventional step-by-step, as well as showing you the importance of working in layers. If you want to paint more formal portraits, this is an excellent and useful guide. Do expect to have to do a little adaptation of the style though.