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9 Amazing Portraits That Changed Art

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Anyone can snap a selfie. These passionate artists created portraits that changed art forever.

1. “Portrait of Wally” by Egon Schiele

The painting of Schiele’s mistress is called the “face that launched a thousand lawsuits” for a reason. After being lost during World War II, Wally remained missing until 1997, when she somehow ended up in an American museum—an appearance that angered the Austrian government, which claimed ownership. It sparked a 13-year court battle that has influenced every art restitution case since.

2. “Portrait of Gustave Geffroy” by Paul Cezanne

Having your portrait painted by Cezanne was like running a marathon. The artist studied his subjects so intensely that he could not paint them in one fell swoop, but sometimes needed them to pose over 100 times. (For Geffroy’s portrait, Cezanne took three months.) The hard angles in Geffroy’s portrait inspired Cubists years later. 

3. “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent

Everyone was shocked when Madame X was unveiled. Although nude paintings were everywhere, this painting was considered by far the most sexual many viewers had seen. Having posed as the model, Virgine Gautreau found her reputation briefly dashed, losing her status as Paris’s prime arm candy. Now lauded for being both revealing and concealing, the portrait is considered one of the greatest ever made.

4. All of Mary Cassatt’s portraits

Mary Cassatt may have grown up in Pittsburgh, but her portraits look like they came straight from France. Capturing the subtle social and private lives of women, Cassatt was one of the first women to successfully make painting her full-time job. By the looks of it, she was just as talented—if not more talented—as the men.

5. “The Blue Boy” by Thomas Gainsborough

Back in the 18th century, lots of portraits looked like colorless voids—a palette of drab browns and grays. Artist Joshua Reynolds even dictated, “Masses of light in a picture be always of a warm, mellow colour, yellow, red, or a yellowish white, and that the blue, the grey, or the green colours be kept almost entirely out of these masses.” Thomas Gainsborough called that hogwash. He defied convention and sparked a surge in color with this brightly lit portrait of a boy in blue.

6. “Whistler’s Mother” by James McNeill Whistler

Painted in 1871, some call this portrait the “Victorian Mona Lisa.” Although Whistler didn’t consider it a portrait—he felt it was a study in black and gray—it’s since become an icon for motherhood. Few paintings have been copied more.

7. “Pope Innocent X” by Diego Velazquez

The granddaddy of them all, art historians all over call this the greatest portrait of all time. The subject’s ruddy complexion is incredibly precise, arguably making it the most realistic portrait ever made. (When the pope first saw it, he recoiled and called it “too real.”) Velazquez did something that few people in the 17th century could do—he made one of the world’s most powerful men look human.

8. All of Van Gogh’s Self Portraits

In his final years, Van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits. More than beautiful paintings, those portraits are records of every alteration of the artist’s technique—and a portal into how he viewed himself during those whirlwind years. Painted in 1889, his last portrait commanded one of the highest prices for a painting of all time, going for $71 million.

9. “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by Gustav Klimt

Sold for $135 million in 2006, Klimt’s golden masterwork is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold. The portrait’s complex ornamentation helped establish the Art Nouveau movement, a style that has heavily influenced modern architecture, sculpture, and—of course—painting. 

Want to see your passions and connections to your friends? Check out Nissan's Passion Genome to create your interactive Passion Portrait and share the passions that make you, you.

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10 Trails Every Passionate Hiker Must Trek
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Lace up your boots and grab your walking stick. It’s time to climb!

1. Observation Point
With hikes like Angel’s Landing and the Narrows, Zion National Park in Utah is a goldmine for trail-lovers. But the best view is at Observation Point—your reward for climbing 2100 feet.

2. Tour de Mont Blanc
One of the most popular long distance hikes in Europe, the 100-mile trail passes through Switzerland, Italy, and France. It takes about a week to finish.

3. Appalachian Trail, US
Extending from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, this wild 2200-mile trail is a great way to see 14 states.

4. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
There’s only one way to get to Hawaii’s secluded Kalalau Beach: you have to hike 11 miles to get there. The trail is a fantastic way to see Kauai’s rugged wild side.

5. Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne
Winding back and forth between France and Spain, the 497-mile footpath travels the length of the Pyrenees—and at high altitudes, too.

6. Cape Wrath Trail
Considered one of the toughest trails in the UK, the 200-mile hike in the Scottish Highlands attracts people the world over.

7. Semien Mount Trek
This National Park in Ethiopia is a World Heritage Site, and with mountains almost topping 15,000 feet, it’s one of the few places in Africa that sees snow regularly.

8. Laugavegurinn
Connecting two nature reserves, the 50-mile Icelandic trail crosses over mountains, glaciers, hot springs, lakes, and rivers. There are 20 waterfalls in just the first seven miles!

9. Copper Canyon
Forget the Grand Canyon. Mexico’s Copper Canyon is deeper, wider, and longer. On one trail, you’ll loop 38 miles and see 20,000 feet of elevation change!

10. Santa Cruz Trek
One of the best ways to see the Andes Mountains, Peru’s 30-mile trek requires you to pass through a 15,617 foot mountain pass.
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Want to see your passions and connections to your friends? Check out Nissan's Passion Genome to create your interactive Passion Portrait and share the passions that make you, you.

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9 Kitchen Techniques Passionate Chefs Should Master
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Want to kick your kitchen game up a notch? Learn these nine techniques and watch as your food gets even more delicious.

1. Searing

Searing can add a tasty caramelized crust to your favorite dish. Start with a hot, hot pan. Add a thin coat of oil—enough to make the pan gleam—and add what you’d like to cook. Let it hiss and watch the crust form, then flip.

2. Dicing An Onion

Halve the onion from top to bottom and place the flat sides down on the board. Peel off the skin, face the root end away from you, and make vertical cuts. When you’re done, make horizontal cuts. Don’t cut all the way through the root.

3. Make Pan Sauce

After searing, put those extra brown morsels on the bottom of your pan to use. Add wine, stock, or vinegar to your hot pan. Scrape up those leftover bits on the pan let the sauce simmer for a few minutes. Remove it from the pan and stir in some cold butter cubes. Season.

4. Make Roux

Roux will amp up your gravy dishes. Melt some butter in a saucepan until it foams, and then add an equal amount of flour. Whisk until the concoction is smooth and cook for three minutes. Cook longer for a darker, nuttier roux.

5. Tempering

Every cook should now how to blend ingredients that are different temperatures—especially if they work with eggs or chocolate. When chocolate isn’t tempered, unsightly white blotches of cocoa mighty appear. So heat your chocolate, and let it cool by stirring in a solid chunk. When the chocolate is about 88 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the remaining chunks and dip away!

6. Make Vinaigrette

Here’s the secret: One part vinegar, three parts oil. Add a pinch of salt to the vinegar and a little Dijon mustard. Now use both hands—one to pour the oil and one to whisk the mixture. Keep going until it’s all blended.

7. Blanch Vegetables

To soften the taste of your veggies, blanch them! Boil a pot of very salty water and dump the vegetables into it. Once they’re cooked plunge them into ice water. This will stop the cooking process and make your veggies cool and crisp.

8. Make Your Own Stock

Throw some chicken in a pot of water with onion, carrots, and celery. Bring it to a boil, reduce the temperature, and let it simmer for a few hours. Skim off the fat, strain it through a sieve, and put it in the fridge. Your soups and sauces will never be the same.

9. Make whipped cream

Become a master of desserts with this skill! Put your metal mixing bowl and whisk or beaters in the freezer. When they’re cold, pour a pint of heavy cream and whisk aggressively until the mixture becomes cloudy. As it thickens, add some powdered sugar and vanilla for extra flavor.

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Want to see your passions and connections to your friends? Check out Nissan's Passion Genome to create your interactive Passion Portrait and share the passions that make you, you.

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