Secrets of self-portraits of famous artists
Self-portrait in most cases – a tool of narcissism, an attempt to leave your image in eternity. But if a genius takes over, his image on the canvas can turn into a real masterpiece, which not only perpetuates the look of the master, but also puzzles, surprises, fascinates the viewer. Over the centuries, some of these self portraits have been knocked out of the usual notion of this genre, without losing either their fans or the attention of researchers.
1. Jan van Eyck, “Portrait of the Arnolfini Couple”
It is from the Renaissance that the development of the self-portrait genre begins – an interest in a person, in a person, naturally generated the artist’s attention to his own image. But self-portraits in their traditional, academic form did not appear immediately. At first, the masters who wanted to portray themselves in the picture either entered their figure in the composition as one of the minor characters, or became “their own models” and the main characters of their works.
“Portrait of the Arnolfini couple”, written in 1434, was in many respects the first one — for example, a new technology for producing paints was used for the picture, the artist’s signature was first indicated here; The painting contains many mysteries, for centuries causing controversy among art historians, and most importantly – the presence of the artist is felt very strongly in it – whether it is visible or not. The mirror, located behind the back of the merchant Arnolfini and his wife, reflects not only the figures of themselves, but also two other characters hidden from the viewer. One of them, perhaps, is Jan van Eyck, as indirectly evidenced by the signature on the painting “Jan van Eyck was here”.
According to another version, the artist depicted in the picture not the Arnolfini family, but himself and his wife Margaret – in confirmation of this version the portrait similarity of the figures with the four van Eyck lead.
2. Francesco Parmigianino, “Self-portrait in a convex mirror”
The Renaissance epoch gave the history of art works of painting, painted in different styles – the artists of Italy created their own traditions, offering the audience sometimes strange, but still great works of art. Parmigianino, translated from Italian as “a resident of Parma,” experimented with proportions, often complicated and distorted the composition of the work, violating the laws of perspective. It is believed that he was fond of magic.
The self-portrait was written by a very young, twenty-year-old artist, on a wooden hemisphere. Parmigianino presented it to Pope Clement VII, among other works, and managed to attract the attention of connoisseurs to the talent shown at such an early age. An unnaturally big hand is an unusual way of depicting a human figure, but it is typical for an artist – something similar can be found in his other works, for example, in the painting Madonna with a Long Neck.
3. Michelangelo, fresco “Last Judgment”
The fresco, which the master wrote from 1537 to 1541, is part of the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. At the time of the work on The Last Judgment, Michelangelo was disappointed in the philosophy of the Renaissance, which was reflected in his work. The church accused the artist that the naked bodies of the frescoes have an obscene appearance, and therefore depicted on the fresco can be considered heresy. The response of Michelangelo, directed to the Pope, was – “to remove nudity is easy, let him bring peace to the decent view”. Nevertheless, some changes were made to the image of the figures.
On one of the fragments of the fresco is St. Bartholomew, who holds a knife in one hand and the skin removed from a sinner in the other. In the eerie-looking folds of this skin, the alleged self-portrait of Michelangelo is visible – perhaps as a symbol of the fact that this work was a master in the form of a burden.
4. Caravaggio, “David with the Head of Goliath”
Caravaggio is an artist, distinguished by a complex kind and difficult fate, but recognized during the lifetime of the genius of the Renaissance. Prone to shocking, challenging academicism, he became an innovator in Italian art and had a great influence on his contemporaries and subsequent generations of painters.
In the painting “David with the Head of Goliath”, where the result of the battle between the biblical hero and the giant is shown, the self-portrait is the severed head of the defeated. Added in 1610, this work accompanied Caravaggio in his wanderings – after spending years of life in exile, he repeatedly corrected and corrected his work.