A self-portrait is an artistic representation of an artist, painted, sculptured, drawn, or photographed by the artist. Several artists have used self-portraits to highlight different aspects about themselves that they believe other artists might not critically bring out in their representations. Since the advent of the mirror in the fifteenth century, modeling artworks have greatly improved with self-portraits becoming some of the new advents that came with the mirror. For whatever reason an artist might choose to construct a self-portrait, almost all the artists in all media from sculptors to painters have attempted this exploration of self. Jean Fouquet's self-portrait (c. 1450) is preferably one of the earliest clearly identified self-portrait that is a separate painting, not an incidental part of a larger work (Kelly & Lucie-Smith, 1987). The painting is a small picture created in gold on black enamel. Nevertheless, during the Amana Period of ancient Egypt (c. 1365 B.C.), one of Pharaoh’s chief sculptors carved a portrait of himself and his wife out of stone (Kelly & Lucie-Smith, 1987). Early renaissance artists such as Titian, Rembrandt, and Durer have painted portraits that depict themselves as either the most important character of their piece of art or the main subjects of these paintings. As an artist, despite the satisfaction that might accompany the success through payments for paintings of other people, I believe that self-satisfaction is also one of the best aspects of art, which ensures that I keep working on new ideas.
While we know a number of self-portraits from the ancient world, we also know very little about the psychological motivations, which inspired them (1987). This is a quote from Sean Kelly in his book The Self-Portrait, A Modern View. While rich people in the past requested artists to draw or make their paintings at expensive costs, it would not be very easy to determine the driving force behind a self-portrait, especially those done by artists that were not well placed in the social ladder. However, I believe that artists such as Jean Fouquet did his self-portrait to act as a reminder of the advent of the mirror, which allowed for viewing of the self. I believe that in my self-portrait as an artist, I would present the information about me that most other artists would not critically evaluate. Asking another artist to paint a portrait for me would result in a different image according to the artist’s perception about me. However, I believe that while I make my self-portrait, it eventually depicts my image in my lens – the ideal person that I believe I am; the real me.
Gold is one of the most expensive metals and most of the paintings that were made of gold were sold to the kings and rich members of the society. This was not only because they could afford the golden paintings, but also because of the prestige that came alongside golden artistic works. I chose to make the painting in gold to accord myself the best value as an artist in the earliest advents of the mirror, which was a major boost to the art industry. I believe that making the painting in the golden look will additionally remind me of the hard work that I did as an artist when I would be incapacitated to draw again in my old age. I chose the enamel to ensure that the strongest object would preserve my portrait for a very long time for the next generations to come. I believe that there would be greater inventions to painting and drawing. Therefore, preserving such artistic works for future reference would provide evidence for the new artists of the subsequent painting ages to understand the nature of painting during our time. I must confess that every time I sit back a view this self-portrait it comes with great satisfaction – a great reward for a career well appreciated.
Being the first French artist to travel to Italy to experience the renaissance, and owing to my manuscript illumination and panel painting techniques, I believe that this is my unique painting because unlike my other painting that majorly addressed religious issues, this painting addresses my self-image. I have done several other paintings such as Maria mit Kind, Virgin and Child, and The Creation, which all addressed issues about God and Humanity (Inglis, 2003). However, this self-portrait, despite being the smallest of these images and paintings, presents a different chapter of my painting since it specifically meant to honor my work as an artist. Unlike the other paintings that were done in different forms including oil paintings, this self-portrait is one of the best paintings for me, that is why I decided to give it the best material; gold and enamel for durability and quality. I believe that self-portraits bring self-satisfaction since they remind the artists of their artistic endeavors. The feeling of seeing an individual’s painting of himself not only brings the joy of success, but also reminds the painter of different phenomenon in life such as the events that surrounded the painting, which for me, I believe I will always have to see.
Kelly S., & Lucie-Smith E., (1987). The self portrait: a modern view. Surrey: Sarema Press
Inglis, E. (2003). Image and Illustration in Jean Fouquet's Grandes Chroniques de France. French Historical Studies, 26(2), 185.