Dorian Grey? Not in this attic

Note: This is a W.A.R. Post. What is it good for? ….Worth Another Blog)

They say women are vain – but when it comes to artists it seems that men never get tired of looking at their own reflection – and painting them.  Van Gogh was one of the most prolific self-portrait artists, (and one of the most least artists) as was  Rembrandt and Picasso.  It is interesting to look at the way age creeps into these self portraits, and is also a tribute to some of the artists lack of vanity and pursuit for truth that makes the ageing process unflattering in some cases. 

This gentle film takes a look at some famous self-portrait painters.  Some like Rembrandt chronicled his age throughout life, some stop short at youth.   Here is part of a list of the artists featured, the rest are here.  See how many you can recognise.

Artists in order of appearance:
0:08 – Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
0:15 – Francisco Goya 1746-1828
0:22 – Albrecht Dürer 1471-1528
0:29 – Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723-1792
0:35 – Rembrandt 1606-1669
0:42 – Andy Warhol 1928-1987
0:48 – William-Adolphe Bouguereau 1825-1905
0:55 – Henri Matisse 1869-1954
1:02 – Eugène Delacroix 1798-1863
1:09 – Jean-François Millet 1814-1875
1:15 – Jan van Eyck 1395-1441
1:22 – Peter Paul Rubens 1577-1640
1:28 – James McNeill Whistler 1834-1903
1:35 – John Singer Sargent 1856-1925
1:42 – Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935
1:49 – Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665

Video and list from   and info from by Philip Scott Johnson

500 Years of Male Self Portraits in Western Art

with thanks!

13 thoughts on “Dorian Grey? Not in this attic

  1. Many artists are notorious for struggling to understand who they are, and how others view them.
    Self portraits is in my mind a form of soul searching, i tend to soul search with words over visual art.
    I guess van gogh had a lot of issues.
    Feels like ages since i last visited here.
    But i guess it hasn’t been that long. lol

  2. Absolutely fantastic! I love how the video technique, used, made these portraits actually appear to come alive! Thank you, bigtime, for sharing this Lynda. Self portraits have always fascinated me.

    1. Glad you liked this Leslie 🙂 I quite like this video morphing technique (wish I knew how to do it) I have a book full of self portraits which I love to dip into. I think it’s great that we know what these artists actually looked like, though a few painted each other. Fascinating 🙂

  3. I did a series of self portraits when I was in Uni (and none of em looked like me lol) I keep saying that I will have another go but I’ve still not round to it. Don’t worry its probably not ages since you came here 🙂 it seems like ages between posts for me though! To think, I actually did a post a day for a whole year one time! Don’t know how I found
    the time 😀

  4. There’s some wonderful morphing going on in this video, it’s very clever the way the portraits merge into each other.
    I guess artists spent so much time analysing other people and scenes to paint they couldn’t help but be curious as to what they looked like on canvas. Maybe they were trying to see themselves from the subjects point of view.
    Great video, Lynda!

  5. Thanks Jessica! A lot were amazed and distrustful of the camera – imagine what those artists would think now if they saw some of the videos of their work (especially these morphed self portraits! 😀 )

    1. I’ve had a look but I can’t find one. There is this one which I’ve already used, but they’re not self portraits.

      However, there are lots of self portraits of women so perhaps I shall compile a video myself (its ages since I made one 🙂 )

  6. Amazing video! (Durer as a young man was quite cute… sad, aren’t I?!)

    I’ve always found self-portraits incredibly difficult to do. One has to work from a mirror and of course the image is reversed. Then there’s lighting and angle. My mother did a sculpture of herself and forgot that she was looking at a reverse image and it came out looking very spooky indeed. Eventually she did it again, but never quite managed to achieve for her own portrait what she did for others’. (She was a portrait sculptor)

  7. No, Durer IS cute 🙂 Could never accomplish a self portrait, but then again one of tutors tried to draw me once and couldn’t 😀 Said I had a very difficult face to draw (boring more like). I should imagine that a self portrait sculpture is even more difficult to acheive than a painting or drawing :-0

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