Portraits and personalities

Self-portraits are interesting. What can they tell us about the artists who painted them? I look at some of them and try to think about what they may contain.

Self-portrait, Albrecht Durer. He is an outstanding perfectionist, and describes himself with accuracy and pride. The picture is symmetrically composed, the face and hand almost centered. The signature and text are aligned with the eyes, it becomes almost like a cross shape and gives a sense of something religious. The textures of cloth, hair, fur and skin are lovely in the warm light. Will Durer convey that he is a pious and wealthy man?

Giorgione’s Self-portrait as David is different. Here, attention is concentrated on the face, expression and gaze. As the hero David, we see a serious victor.  As Giorgione, the painting reveals a feeling, something like sorrow mixed with determination.

He may have been inspired by the determined expression in the face of the giant sculpture of David by Michelangelo. But in this painting, the expression takes on another meaning.


When it comes to self portraits, no one can overlook Rembrandt. He used himself to study the art of painting, texture, light, color, expressions of emotion. I feel it is he that looks at me out of the painting.

It is a kind of magic.

Artemisia Gentileschi obviously loved the art of painting, and she expressed that in this image. She is first and foremost a creator, an individual, then a woman.