Renaissance Smile Art - Jellyfish
Smilə — Lächəln — Sørri — Sønrəír — Sørridi

These days, smiling for a selfie takes mere seconds, imagine having to smile and pose for hours in front of a painter to get your portrait taken. Now imagine that we could see what it would be like if the people depicted in the paintings smiled.

— Never underestimate the power of a smile.


Welcome to Renaissance Smile an experimental project that aims to put a smile on people’s faces.

“Smile!” We hear this phrase almost every time we pose for a photo. Nowadays, smiling is almost a requirement in photos and selfies, a reflex action.

But that wasn’t always the case. For most of the recorded history, there hasn’t been a lot of laughs. A smile is rarely present in paintings. How come?

Going back in time, the Renaissance is a period of feverish cultural, artistic, political and economic “rebirth” of Europe after the Middle Ages. The Renaissance, generally described as between the 14th and 17th centuries, encouraged the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature and art. This era thrived on some of the greatest thinkers, writers, politicians, scientists, and artists in human history, while global exploration opened up new lands and cultures to European commerce. The Renaissance is considered the bridge between medieval and modern civilizations.

The main question we have to ask is why were faces rarely depicted smiling in most Renaissance paintings of the past?

We see that the portraits often have rather serious expressions and almost never smile. You could say that one of the reasons why our ancestors avoided smiling was to not show and capture their bad teeth in portraits. However, in the past, poor dental hygiene was so common that it was not perceived as it might be today. If a painter were able to convince their subject to be depicted with a full smile, the resulting portrait would be immediately perceived as radical – the smile would become the focal point of the picture, rarely what a paying subject would want. In fact, the reasons for the absence of smiles in the paintings of some famous artists can be attributed to practical and socio-cultural issues.

Moreover, the purpose of the portrait was to capture, with a solemn expression, a person who often held positions of wealth and power. 

But let’s be honest for a moment, some of the paintings are quite creepy when the people depicted are smiling…

Let’s talk

Please don’t hesitate in contacting me by sending me an email with any question you may have, I will get back to you as soon as possible.


Life is too short. Smile while you still have teeth.

Go to top

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!