The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History

By James Hall

Sheds new gentle at the lengthy background of self-portraiture with clean interpretations of recognized examples and new works, rules, and anecdotes

This wide cultural background of self-portraiture brilliantly maps the heritage of the style, from the earliest myths of Narcissus and the Christian culture of “bearing witness” to the prolific self-image-making of today’s modern artists.

targeting a perennially well known topic, the publication tells the vibrant historical past of works that provide insights into artists’ own, mental, and inventive worlds. subject matters contain the significance of the medieval replicate craze in early self-portraiture; the confessional self-portraits of Titian and Michelangelo; the mystique of the artist’s studio, from Vermeer to Velázquez; the position of biography and geography for serial self-portraitists equivalent to Courbet and Van Gogh; the a number of selves of contemporary and modern artists akin to Cahun and Sherman; and up to date advancements within the period of globalization.

complete and wonderfully illustrated, the e-book good points the paintings of quite a lot of artists together with Beckmann, Caravaggio, Dürer, Gentileschi, Ghiberti, Giotto, Goya, Kahlo, Kauffman, Magritte, Mantegna, Picasso, Poussin, Raphael, Rembrandt and Van Eyck. the whole variety of the topic is explored, together with comedian and sketch self-portraits, “invented” or imaginary self-portraits, and significant collections of self-portraiture akin to that of the Medici. a hundred and twenty illustrations in colour and black and white

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No longer all artists are ‘fond’ of constructing self-portraits, because the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne insouciantly positioned it whilst writing in regards to the huge Uffizi self-portrait assortment in 1860. Neither do they bring them at any level of their profession. They hardly say, because the well-known New Yorker sketch approximately Rembrandt had it: ‘Hendrickje, i believe one other self-portrait approaching. herald the humorous hats’. Rembrandt had in reality painted and etched greater than part his eventual output of self-portraits by the point he used to be thirty. He not often made any within the 1640s. Titian simply begun making self-portraits while he was once approximately sixty, and his are the 1st ‘old age’ self-portraits. sooner than Titian, such a lot artists made self-portraits after they have been younger and/or in impolite healthiness (hence a bit dedicated to ‘child prodigy’ self-portraits). Dürer’s 3 autonomous painted self-portraits have been all made prior to he was once thirty. by way of an analogous token, Leonardo by no means made a self-portrait (though the hunt continues to be on), and neither did the nice artist-autobiographer Benvenuto Cellini. Sculpted self-portraits pretty well disappear from view among 1600 and 1770. The heritage of self-portraiture can be the heritage of gathering, exhibiting, publishing and faking self-portraits. So the following the presentation of self-portraits is explored – from their first visual appeal in artists’ houses and in inner most and royal collections, via to their inclusion in museums, transitority exhibitions, catalogues or even as public monuments. Vasari has a significant, and extremely artistic, position the following. the second one version of his Lives of the Artists (1568) featured engraved self-portraits of the artists. in general, self-portraits didn't exist, so Vasari assumed that any one looking of a multi-figure art or who seemed individualized needs to be the artist. No self-portraits have been credited to Giotto within the first version; yet within the moment variation he was once credited with 3. From the Romantic period onwards, with its emphasis on art-as-autobiography, there was a gold rush of prospecting for self-portraits. extra lately, there was a countervailing tendency to demote self-portraits to graphics ‘of an unknown sitter’. whilst discussing self-portraiture, the trendy cult of the artist makes it difficult to prevent changing into overly reverential, talking as though in hushed tones. for this reason, inadequate consciousness has been paid to the attention-grabbing topic of comedian and caricatural self-portraits. This sub-genre takes to the air within the period of the Renaissance superstar-artist. simply as kings display their majesty by means of inviting the mockery in their fools, so an artist like Michelangelo can trade among heroic and mock-heroic self-portraits. while portray the Sistine ceiling he drew the 1st ever caricatural self-portrait, depicting himself in deformed motion, daubing like a toddler. Artists have been typically ranked at courts with ‘entertainers’ corresponding to buffoons, dwarfs, wits and fools. this can be how Velázquez nonetheless situates himself in his unbelievable Las Meninas, subsequent to yet precise from different court docket entertainers – dwarves, jesters, canines – and a royal baby.

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