Apr 23

Arts Everyday Living: A Week of Self-Portraits—The Artist & the Sunflower

Click on the individual works of art to ENLARGE them.



Why have so many artists created self-portraits? Rembrandt portrayed himself at least 90 times, surpassing all other painters in this category, although Van Gogh, Picasso, and Goya regularly captured their own images in paint. Perhaps my next couple of blogs will provide some answers to an always intriguing question. For instance, are self-portraits often introspective studies meant mainly for personal use?  Or have they also been intended for public display, demonstrating the artist’s position in society?  Or both?

Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), who would someday be the official court painter for British monarch Charles I, still looks like a teenager in the full length self portrait below. His youthful face, with a residue of baby fat, belongs to an adolescent rather than a rising artistic star in his early twenties, already the favorite assistant of Flemish countryman Peter Paul Rubens.  However Van Dyck’s elegant attire, defined by his sweeping brushstrokes of rich color and velvety texture, is proof of his status




Van Dyck

Sir Anthony van Dyck, Self Portrait, c. 1620-1621?, oil on canvas, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia



























In contrast, in Self Portrait with Sunflower, the artist is now a mature and decidedly more attractive man wearing a well groomed moustache and goatee, commonly known as a Van Dyck beard. He has probably just been knighted by his patron Charles I and shows off a gold chain, most likely a gift of gratitude from the king. But what does the sunflower signify? For Van Dyck looks meaningfully towards us, while pointing to the same flower that would someday inspire Van Gogh.



self portrait

Sir Anthony van Dyck, Self Portrait with a Sunflower, c. 1632, oil on canvas, Private Collection



To view Van Dyk’s unusual triple portrait of Charles I:

Memories of a King


The above image is used solely for educational purposes.


And discover the master of self portraits, Rembrandt in Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively.

Purchase on Amazon

Purchase on Amazon






Permanent link to this article: https://artseverydayliving.com/blog/2013/04/arts-everyday-living-portraits/

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