Self-portraits in art – selfies have actually been around since ancient times

academy selbstportraets 01 - Self-portraits in art - selfies have actually been around since ancient times

Self-portraits or contemporary selfies are indispensable to the contemporary world.

Self-portraits have become inflationary as a result of photography, especially thanks to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The world of stars and starlets uses the selfie to entertain the fans. So we often see self-portraits from everyday life, which make us feel more close to the other person.

Self-portraits or Selfies are a very important tool to express ourselves and nowadays it is actually measurable how successfully we are by counting the number of likes, follower or friends we have. This boom gives the impression that this trend has only begun in recent years. However, this is incorrect!

Self-portraits already existed in the past!

The human need for self-expression has always been there but in a different form. A painted, sculpted, or drawn portrait was the only way to record the appearance of someone. Often the model was the painter himself who stood or sit in front of a mirror.  The artistic standards were very high and to reach that quality, artists had to be able to paint and draw realistically.

Portrait painting or drawing is considered the supreme art discipline. Nowadays, there are not many artists, compared to ancient times, who can master the realistic painting and drawing techniques and who are able to draw or paint life models or even self-portraits.

Self-portraits and their historical development

Do you know what kind of selfie trend was widespread in Gothic art? Artists used to paint themselves into their epic and religious paintings. Today it would be much easier and faster to do it thanks to Photoshop, however, back then, was a very difficult, but at the same time, prestigious artistic work.

A well-known “selfieist” of the Renaissance was Albrecht Dürer. At the age of thirteen, he drew his first realistic self-portrait, portraying himself puristically. In the next self-portraits, which he made at the age of 22, 27 and 29, he was wearing fine robes. And finally, at the age of 38, he used his self-portrait as an act of self-expression.

How would contemporary artists paint or draw a self-portrait? Ricky Larsson, a Swedish artist, shows himself in a special form of self-expression (3rd picture on the top of the page).

Take a look at our post “Portrait painting in oil“.

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