By James Hall
Sheds new gentle at the lengthy background of self-portraiture with clean interpretations of recognized examples and new works, principles, and anecdotes
This extensive cultural historical past of self-portraiture brilliantly maps the background 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 booklet tells the vibrant heritage 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 corresponding to Courbet and Van Gogh; the a number of selves of contemporary and modern artists comparable to Cahun and Sherman; and up to date advancements within the period of globalization.
finished and wonderfully illustrated, the booklet positive factors 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 total variety of the topic is explored, together with comedian and sketch self-portraits, “invented” or imaginary self-portraits, and demanding collections of self-portraiture corresponding to that of the Medici. a hundred and twenty illustrations in colour and black and white
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Additional info for The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History
At Glastonbury, the place Dunstan rebuilt the Abbey and reinstituted monastic existence lower than a strict ethical code, he painted a well-known and hugely influential frontispiece to a Latin grammar. A wiry define drawing, it's a pioneering instance of a method and magnificence that will develop into a distinguishing characteristic of Anglo-Saxon paintings during this interval. Dunstan is prostrate beside an immense status determine of Christ. A four-line prayer is inscribed over him, the prickly strains urgent down on his flattened again like a package of faggots: ‘I ask, merciful Christ, that you could be guard me, Dunstan, and that you just don't enable the Taenerian storms drown me’. Taenarum used to be a storm-lashed coastal mountain at whose foot lay the doorway to the classical underworld. Dunstan’s ‘storms’ characterize the worldly temptations to sin. he's humbly located to Christ’s left, the place the damned can be found within the final Judgment (the Latin for left is sinister). by way of touching Christ’s gowns, Dunstan is looking for absolution. yet Christ appears the wrong way, to his correct (as he does in Crucifixion scenes) and the implication is that it'll take many prayers and reliable works sooner than Christ seems to be favourably on him, and permits him to omit to that facet. but Dunstan’s proximity to Christ indicates no loss of trust in his intimacy with the redeemer, and within the chance of final luck. His submissiveness is that of a courtier, for the occupation of humility or even of smallness was once a courtly conference. From the time of Emperor Diocletian (r. 284–305) the etiquette of courtly submission and inadequacy was once by way of pagans and Christians alike – and went hand in hand with extravagant exaltation of the secular ruler. Writers and orators might usually say sorry for the crudeness and paltriness of what was once to stick to, and their loss of expertise. Self-disparagement formulae integrated references to ‘my littleness, pettiness, smallness’. thirteen Conspicuous humility is a typical trope in medieval self-portraiture: the English monk Matthew Paris (d. 1257), who was once a celebrated historian, metalworker and painter, prostrates himself underneath the throne of the Virgin and baby within the frontispiece to the 3rd quantity of his Historia Anglorum. yet his identify is prominently inscribed in huge letters above his again. Mount Taenarum were thrillingly evoked within the first-century Roman writer Statius’s epic poem the Thebaid (2: 32ff). The summit is a comparatively calm position out of succeed in of the hurricane clouds and ‘the vapours of the decrease region’, and a resting position for ‘weary stars’. this can be the place Dunstan is situated, on a rocky outcrop, wearied after a protracted penitential climb. Dunstan’s Christ needs to be emerging above those self same vapours and clouds, with the wavy line marking their excessive aspect. Dunstan isn't just overlaying his face together with his hand, he's wiping off the vapours that also hang to it, attempting to flip it – as urged by way of Plotinus – right into a ‘lovely face’, radiant with mild. St Dunstan, Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ, c. 943–57, ink on parchment So why is a medieval churchman not just executing spiritual photographs, but additionally a self-portrait of significant strength and class?