Artists of many generations have been engaged in the work of painting people, and portrait painting eventually became a fine art as patrons had their own likenesses reproduced over the centuries. Historical figures were often painted as part of their duties, and even those who were rich but not famous would have an artist create a canvas for them. Many husbands commissioned paintings of their wives or children. All of these people were a direct subject of an artist, yet crowds and even imaginary people have been portrayed on canvas over the years.
Creating an image in paint is often about accentuating the good and diminishing the bad or ugly, and it has long been the bane of professional artists. People are not always pretty or beautiful in whatever happens to be the current trend, and those trying to please their patrons went to great lengths to ensure a portrait made them look good. Some artists rebelled against this type of pandering, and they often ended up destitute, but others were willing to do what was necessary to please the buyer.
Lifelike portraits of a real person can be difficult, and they generally require that person to sit and pose for hours at a time. There is no standard amount of time it takes to create a portrait, and many artists were more than willing to take up to a year or two so they could get their work perfected. While posing might not have been all that comfortable for their subjects, the artists would generally require them to sit for only an hour or two before they could work on parts that required no subject in front of them.
It can be difficult to please a person sitting for a portrait when they see what the artist perceives, and many have been the times when pandering to a client's wishes was the only possible way to please them. While some said it was dishonest, others eventually found that truth and beauty might lie in the eyes of the poser if they wanted to receive the payment they had been promised when commissioned.