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Self-portrait in renaissance art: a contrast between north and south - Essay Example

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The genre of self portrait is to a great extent an invention of Renaissance. It can be found in the art of Antiquity only in very seldom cases, and it has been hardly known to the Medieval art. An artist, who dared to depict himself, or even just to sign his creation by his own name risked to be accused with sin of pride…
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Self-portrait in renaissance art: a contrast between north and south
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Download file to see previous pages Earlier art aimed to depersonalize a artist, making him only a guide for God-blessed inspiration, alternatively Renaissance made turned an artist, being just a handicraftsman before, into an active participant of the creative process.
No wonder, that a new generation of artists, starting from about 1450 began to show interest not only to painting of others, but also to painting themselves. The pioneers of a new manner were Italians, who placed their images to the background and gave their faces to supporting characters of large paintings. Full-size self-painting has long been considered an inadmissible self-advertising. It was necessary to create some true and immortal masterpieces, to break the established stereotypes and make a self portrait an ordinary sort of painting. The aim of this paper is to examine and contrast the self portraits of two Renaissance titans - Albrecht Duerer and Raphael Santi.
The famous self-portraits by Albrecht Duerer, and especially the one, painted in 1500, represent a culmination of self-depicting in Renaissance Northern Europe. The first impression, made by the portrait persuades a spectator, that it is Jesus Christ himself is painted on the picture. But soon a fur-coat, worn by a depicted person, makes a spectator doubt about his idea, and a subscript, clearly readable in the right corner of the composition indicates a person as Albrecht Duerer himself1.
So, what made Duerer associate himself with a living god It is well known, that Duerer was a very egoistic and self-affected person. His earlier self portraits (1493, 1498) represent a young and handsome man. It is quite possible, that Duerer used to embellish his image. In particular, this concerns his 1493 self portrait, painted to represent a young artist to his bride, in which Duerer aspired to show himself as a strong and potential male. His another self portrait, known as Self Portrait of Prado, seems to be painted just to make everybody admire with Duerers magnificent blond hair, which he was very proud of. His another self-portrait, finished in 1502 is much more unvarnished and even advertising; the artist's torso is naked, and his look appears to be licentious.
Duerer's attitude to depicting himself and bald erotism of his paintings occasioned the public to accuse Duerer with narcissism and even homosexual inclinations. A parody to his 1498 self portrait showed Duerer in hair-curlers2.
All of the mentioned self portraits bear similar features. Great attention is paid to details making a spectator concentrate on the masterly painted details of clothes and body parts. The face of the artist seems to fall in middle distance, contrasted by his mighty shoulders and chests, accentuated by the pleats of his dress and outlines of his coat. Moreover - all the self portraits of Duerer, both painted before and after 1500 show the character in one-half turn with his right side to the onlooker. Duerers look is never direct, he looks skew, almost ready to turn his eyes away from the spectator.
The 1500 self portrait is very much different. Duerer shape shows up clearly against a dark background. His calm, and at the same time penetrating look is pointed directly into spectator's eyes, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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