There is. of course, a certain amount of narcissism involved in painting self-portraits. I know that when I'm sketching from imagination, rather than life, the faces of the male figures always end up looking like self-portraits. It's unintentional. Is it ego? Or is it just that one's own face is so familiar, seen each morning in the mirror, that the subconcious which controls the movement of your pencil-hand tends to draw what is so easy to imagine?
Just returned from London. I saw van Gogh's self portrait. c.i.
Merry. You've got the answer, I think. I almost always draw people from memory or imagination. Rarely use models, even photos. And people always note how much the male images look like me. I swear it is not intentional. My hand simply draws the features that are most familiar to me (because of the daily ritual of shaving and combing in the mirror).
I read a quote in Soho yesterday; an exhibit of "Tromp l'oil" (damn i can never spell that word...sorry) defined "style" as the line between fashion and technique.
Well that rolled around my head alittle through many of the soho galleries and went uptown the next day to the Met, where aside from another tour of DaVinci's drawings...many of which are portrait studies and I think confirm this somewhat broad definition of style. The "fashion" of his time being the religious icon compositions and his breataking sfumato techniques and refined line.
Then there is the new exhibit of the influence of Spanish portraiture on the French, and not really having "felt" the depth of the connetion between Velazquez and Manet I found this fascinating.
the study of "las Menninas " was there of course ..employing the self portrait tactic of putting the artist at work in the distant room ans well as Singer Sargeant's devoted study of the piece (again the uncanny stylistic influence so apparent when these artists' works are seen in the same galleries).
Now my point somewhat obtuse; as an artist myself I find any painting is to a degree a form of "self portraiture"; and I recalled this discussion thread while staring at the elegant "Philosopher" series by Manet of the early 19th C. Maybe the actual features are not "self portraiture" per se; but the posturing, iconic ordinariness, "non-bourgois" realism, and outright human expression seemed unquestionably self-portrait like. I walked from this sensing an authentic "empathy" between artist /subject (these portraits painted by choice, not commissioned): the beggars are not mere bums but convincing elegant renderings of a human in need; asking for help. To have this level of empathy , to me, is a form of "self-awareness" and implies a projection of the artists' persona as intense and real as in a self-rendering by VaGogh.
In order for Zurbaran to paint St. Francis in Meditation (another of Manet's influences) with such stark simplicity of design and formal clarity revealing powerful poise of an expression of austere devotion there would have had to been a deep connection between the the emotional life of the artist and that portrayed in the subject. Some elemental expression is vicariously experienced for Zurbaran through St Francis; I think.
the same sort of spirit is in da Vinci's St Jerome Praying in the Wilderness. It seems there is a strong possibility of the painitng being a vehicle for some internal working of the artist in order for it to have such convincing expressive force.
I also looked in the 20th C wing Warhol's latest of self portrait's; large enhanced silk screen in camouflage motif. Not t he power of the brush inthis type of work and yet as a self portrait it is very convincing in his choice of materials and composition. "the style" is exploited for means of self-rendering. I would not want to see anyone elses done this way; but Andy used lisence of his famed style to convince us of his precence beyond rendering facial features.
I have done many self-portraits. It is really tough to do one well....
It's a fine balance between trying to portray technical virtuosity, self-insight, a person of interest and the dilemma and desire for flattery!
Shepaints. Regarding self-portraits, you've put it all in a nutshell.
Phillip Guston's self portrait lying in bed with a plate of french fries on his chest.
satt, Isn't that the painting at the Prado in Madrid? c.i.