“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” —Frida Kahlo

An important and highly recurring subject matter in the history of art, featuring a likeness or representation of the artist by the artist. As mirrors became cheaper and clearer in the 15th century, the Early Renaissance saw the proliferation of self-portraiture as a genre in itself, owing perhaps also to an increasing interest in humanism and the individual. The term "self-portrait" may refer to just a portrait of the artist, or a portrait of an artist located within a larger scene, group, or composition, also called an "inserted" self-portrait—as in Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas (1656). Albrecht Dürer was the first prolific self-portraitist, portraying himself at several different ages; Rembrandt followed his lead, completing over 90 of them, a veritable personal autobiography. In the 19th century, self-reflection in art took hold much more extensively, with artists using the technique to comment upon their social status, or for the purposes of psychological introspection as in the works of Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, or Egon Schiele. Today artists continue to riff on the centuries-old motif in thoughtful variations, particularly in photography.

Related Categories

Related Artists

1,089 Artworks
1,089 Artworks: