Holland Paints Sports Illustrated's Sportsman Of The Year Peyton Manning.
And, the art critics proclaim "Holland gets it."

If you are a Football fan, or simply a sports fan, no one has to tell you how brightly Peyton Manning's star is shining. At this moment Manning without a doubt is the most celebrated person in sports. And, it comes as no surprise that artist Stephen Holland is right there in the moment.

This year, Stephen Holland was commissioned to paint Peyton Manning in celebration not only for his astonishing career, but also an amazing year. Holland's painting much like Manning himself, has received a great deal of attention and accolades. So much so, that the story has leaped of the sports pages to the artist and culture section of Denver Post. Where, their own fine arts critic reviewed the work as being in the ranks of some of art histories most noted portraitists. And, offers perhaps the greatest and most succinct criticism an artist has ever received when he simply states "Holland gets it."

Peyton Manning portrait is brutish, but so is professional football

Payton Manning by Stephen Holland

Portraiture has always been as much about propaganda as it is about painting. Nothing trumpets a person's glory — real or imagined — better than their carefully honed countenance immortalized on canvas for all to admire.

From a historical perspective, no genre of art is more important, especially when you consider that photography is a relatively recent phenomenon. From Jesus to George Washington, portraits give us a collective way of seeing our famous forefathers. We know artists take liberties, but we take what we can get.

And, no doubt, we value portraits for more than recording the facts. We revere "Mona Lisa" because DaVinci rendered something eternal in her knowing smirk. "Whistler's Mother" is all of our mothers, confident, noble, respected.

It's that essence of frozen humanity that makes Stephen Holland's new portrait of Peyton Manning interesting. His heroic rendering of the Denver Broncos quarterback — in uniform, gaze fixed toward the goal line, arm drawn — is over-the-top in every way. It's crass, brutish, about as subtle as a Marvel comic book.

But one could say the same things about professional football. This is a sport where dudes bang into each other's heads until they get brain damage. It wouldn't be appropriate to paint its protagonists with the spiritual precision of Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Even within that, Holland does capture something curious about Manning's particular skills. This athlete's genius surfaces in tiny moments, those split seconds when he senses an open target amidst the chaos of a field in play. Holland seizes him at the very instant.

Sports portraiture is never refined. No one will ever mistake LeRoy Neiman's gutty "Muhammad Ali" for Thomas Gainsborough's precocious "Blue Boy." In this game, profit and piety are equal motivators. That's likely the case here, with a limited set of 39 prints available, signed by both artist and subject, for $3,000 each (the original painting is listed for $20,000).

But Holland gets it. He's not painting a nobel laureate, he's painting a quarterback, beloved for his brawn and might. If brawn is what you value, this might look great hanging next to your big-screen TV.