Arts Everyday Living: Inside the Self Portrait—A Visual Time Capsule

Click on the work of art to enlarge it.


Today we’ll be concluding our 4 part workshop series, Creative Art Journeys, with ArtistsSelfPortraits: True Self, New Self (see; October 21 blog for more information on these programs).  We’ll not only be exploring a variety of artists’ self-portraits, from Rembrandt to Van Gogh to contemporary painters, but their connections to us and how we perceive ourselves.

I’ll be including Double Portrait of the Artist in Time by Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999), a 20th century American artist, which is currently in the collection of the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. It is a riveting painting that has always made me stop and pause even when I’m on my way to a different gallery or exhibition in the museum. As if I can’t quite escape that need to examine my own existence and understand the process of aging.


For Lundeberg has created a visual time capsule in which she bridges the past and the present as well as the different stages of her life. In 1972, almost 40 years after finishing Double Portrait, she explained its development,

I used a photograph I still have for the portrait of myself as a child.  I also used the clock to show that it was a quarter past two which corresponded to the child’s age if translated into years.  And instead of presenting myself as an adult before a painting of myself as child, I reversed the situation so that the child casts an adult shadow on the portrait on the wall, which is a self portrait I painted somewhat earlier.


Quote of Helen Lundeberg is from the book National Museum of American Art by the staff of the museum, published by Smithsonian Institution,  Washington, D.C., 1995.

Helen Lundeberg, Double Portrait of the Artist in Time, 1935, oil on fireboard, Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.


The above image is used solely for educational purposes.







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