The Big Question Lecture

What is it about these paintings that make them look truthful?

Image2 Albrecht Durer, Self Portrait (1500 – slightly unusual)Image1 Lucian Freud, Self Portrait (1985)

Both the self portraits seem to be real to the person drawn, they both show the flaws of the artist – more in the Lucian Frued painting which is a very honest and semi-abstract painting.  Durer on the other hand seems to have dressed up and perfected his image for the painting. He has posed in such a way that we see him as a wealthy man, with his proud face showing off his perfectly curled hair and his fur on show for the viewer. Whereas, Freud seems to be unprepared, he’s naked (as far as we can see) and doesn’t look posed.

Image3Rembrandt, self portrait with a cap (1630)

Does he look like that?

It seems Rembrandt has portrayed himself as a very characterized person, as if he’s caught the moment. A slight sense of mischief has been seized  in this self portrait etch, making it slightly similar to Freud’s. He has done a series of self-portraits all of which seem to be slightly different. We discussed whether this made them good self portraits , I believe that it is good that he’s managed to capture different emotions which have subsequently changed his face slightly which personally I think is a nice effect.

Image4Rembrandt, self portrait with a cap and plume (1638)

Wearing clothes which were a century out of fashion from when this was created and also wearing royal clothes proves that Rembrandt was a funny character, he clearly liked to experiment with his personality. Also another image where he is dressed as a beggar with the two contrasts show his experiments as multiple characters.

Image6Rembrandt, Leaning on a stone sill 

Self contained. Looking sophisticated he is also leaning slightly over the wall closer to the viewer to make a connection, this painting was created in a similar way to:

about 1510 Titian, Man with Quilted sleeve. In this painting there is a clear barrier between Titian and the viewer, its an unnatural look as if he’s turned to look toward the viewer without moving his whole body – to seem quite aloof. His elbow is not rested and his hand seems downward as if to have a sword to hand. This painting is significantly different to Rembrandt’s as it seems colder and Titian seems to be looking down his nose at the viewer & not a very friendly exposure.

image7Rembrandt, Self portrait at a window (1648) 

Quite a humble approach to his look, he seems chubbier and informal. A blank background and sat by a window as he would be if he were drawing. Its a plain image similar to:

image8 Raphael, portrait of Pietro Perugino, we can see a lot of similarities near the two.


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18 years old, first year fine art student in Cardiff :)

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