Self Portraits at London’s National Portrait Gallery

self portraits

London’s National Portrait Gallery is offering a small but attractive special exhibit that explores self-portraiture through the ages, from Van Eyck, the man who invented oil painting in the fifteenth century, to the brutal images of Francis Bacon and other rigorously unsentimental contemporary artists.

Painters turned out self portraits for an intriguing variety of reasons. For female artists, they were a necessary evil since women were denied access to live figure models until late in the nineteenth century — too unseemly, you know. For women, self portraits also served as advertisements in the days when commissions were hard to come by.

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