Portraiture is one of the oldest forms of fine art. The first portraits are thought to be Egyptian paintings depicting gods. Portraits can show a person is various poses: head and shoulders, half-length or full-body. Such painting can show one person or group of people.
Brief overview of portrait painting
In the very beginning portraits had a clear practical goal — to become a part of a family remembrances when photography wasn't invented. As hiring an artist for painting a portrait was very expensive, only rich and powerful could afford it so now we can see mostly pictures of nobility in museums.
Sometimes artists depicted people who inspired them — their muses. Usually as a muses artists have chosen their wives of lovers. One of the most known examples of muse-artist relationship is Salvador Dali and his wife Gala who is depicted on some of his paintings.
Portrait painting has changed over the centuries with the development of new styles and techniques. On portraits of modern artists it is sometimes difficult to even recognize bodies — for example, late Picasso Cubist works show people with not realistic proportions and shapes, and on Expressionist portraits we see unrealistic colors and shapes as well. But this way of depicting people doesn't break the main rule of portraiture — to show not only appearance but the inner nature of a person.
Self portrait paintings
The motives why artists created painted selfies were very different. Someone depicted themselves to develop skills, others wanted to sell the portraits. Some artists used self-portraits for self-promotional goals. History of fine arts also knows examples of repetitive self-portraits when artists created several portraits of themselves, mostly for emotional reasons.
The first self-portrait that survived up to now is Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban by Jan van Eyck created in 1433. Art historians say that in Antic period self-portrait genre existed as well but we don't have any examples of them. On some paintings artists depicted themselves not obviously — for example, as a reflection in the mirror like Jan van Eyck did in Arnolfini Portrait.
Here are several most known self-portraits:
- world-known portraits of Vincent van Gogh;
- self-portraits of Picasso when he just began to develop cubist paintings;
- numerous portraits of Frida Khalo.
World's most expensive self-portraits for now are Portrait of Artist Without a Beard by Van Gogh ($71,5 million) and Six Self Portraits by Andy Warhol ($26,7 million).
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