Self-Portraiture: An Incomplete Visual History


Given that yesterday was what would have been famous portraitist (and self-portraitist) Andy Warhol‘s 83 birthday, we’ve been thinking a little bit about the long history of self-portraiture. Many artists’ first subjects are themselves, which makes some sense, considering the proximity and availability of one’s own face. Often artists’ self portraits differ greatly from the rest of their work, but some trade almost exclusively in the form. Like anything else, the mediums and methods vary widely, but all are fascinating in that they attempt to show an inner part of the artist more directly than any representation of an outside subject could. With that in mind, click through for our very incomplete (how could it not be?) visual history of self-portraiture, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorite pieces in the comments!

Jan van Eyck, 1433 (the disputed earliest surviving panel self-portrait)

Albrecht Dürer, 1500

Leonardo da Vinci, 1515

Peter Paul Rubens, 1623

Rembrandt, 1658

Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, 1782

Gustave Courbet, 1844-1845

Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

Henri Matisse, 1906

Egon Schiele, 1910

Tamara de Lempicka, 1925

Frida Kahlo, 1940

Diane Arbus, 1945

Bruce Nauman, 1966-1967

Chuck Close, 1967-1968

Francis Bacon, 1971

Cindy Sherman, 1978 (part of her Untitled Film Stills series)

Jeff Wall, 1979

Robert Mapplethorpe, 1980

Lucien Freud, 1981

Nan Goldin, 1984

Andy Warhol, 1986

Sarah Lucas, 1996

Ron Mueck, 2001-2002

Takashi Murakami, 2009