In the days before mirrors, baseball players would collect their own baseball cards so that they'd always know what they looked like. Enjoy the preservative nature of portraiture with today's Groupon: for $99, you get an 8"x10" hand-painted portrait (a $500 value) from Bradford Renaissance Portraits in White Plains. Groupon holders can optionally select to upgrade the size of their final portrait to 11"x14" ($2,500, a $3,000 value) up to 36"x48" ($19,500, a $20,000 value).
Bradford Rowley's manually finished portraiture evokes the classic regality of a time when the paintbrush was mightier than the Polaroid. Each personally appointed opus begins life as a photograph in the artist's controlled studio environment. Individual subjects can regale the camera eye with defining aspects of their personality or hobbies, augmenting poses with props such as a violin, a horse-riding crop, or a high-school-mascot costume. After that, clients select a single shot to serve as the base of the future masterpiece. Up to eight layers of paint ensconce this initial image in the trappings of old Europe during the ensuing three-month artistic process. Bradford's team of classical crafters employs digital processes only when absolutely necessary, discreetly expunging unsightly bits of lint or the ghost of Warren G. Harding.
Decades of study and practice inform the Renaissance styles that helped elevate Rowley to his position as the advisory chairman of the Presidential Circle of photographers. Bradford's artists have captured likenesses of a distinctive clientele list, including such eminences as a Supreme Court justice, the CEO of Brooks Brothers, Mrs. America 2006, and Secretariat.