Self Image

What is a Self-Portrait?

Artists are thought to have begun to include their own portraits in altarpieces and frescoes in the early 15th Century. The presence of their own face served as a ‘signature’ to the work. Self portraits demonstrated their skill not only to potential clients, but also may have provided an opportunity for artists to experiment and solve particular technical problems. Rubens and Rembrandt are particularly famous for their series of self portraits. Today, the Oxford Companion to Western Art comments on the fact that:

virtually every painter has at some stage in his career made a portrait of himself. This is certainly the case in the 20th Century, including the recent past where many artists have moved away from traditional forms and into film, video, manipulated photographic imagery, and a whole variety of conceptual forms. Here they have used their own likeness or their own body to deal with concerns not necessarily connected with self, but may tackle, for example, issues of gender or sexuality.’

Document icon Learning article provided by: Ferens Art Gallery, Hull | 
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