Self Portraiture

Self portraiture was not always a category of art. Prior to the Renaissance, the artist was not a highly regarded member of society. He was a mere craftsman, creating works under the strict guidance and vision of his master or patron. You will notice that very few works created before the 18th century were signed.

Question: What do you think is the purpose of a signature on a painting?

A new trend emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries. Rather than signing their paintings, which is a 20th century phenomenon, artists started to include their own image in their paintings.

Question: Why do you think an artist would include him/herself in the painting?

By the 19th century, self portraiture had become accepted as an independent category and there were many artists' self portraits available.

Question: There are many different reasons for self portraiture. Can you think of three reasons?

(Hints: in order to document one's image; in order to record one's changing appearance; in order to get to know oneself; to self-analyse; to record ones mental state; to visually document emotions/facial expressions; to practice drawing the face without having to pay for a model; as a form of self promotion)


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