The Selfie: Self Portraiture


Selfie!… Who doesn’t know this word nowadays? … However, it is a  new word. It can be traced to Australia starting in 2002, and by the end of 2013 it was announced as “the word of the year” by the Oxford English Dictionary. Selfie is a self-portrait done with a photographic camera. And while Self-Portraits have been done by painters in the past, we also find that the word self-portrait and self portraiture as a painting subject are relatively new. Self Portraiture itself was not commonly practiced until the Renaissance.

There are only a few cases known of self portraits prior to the 14th hundreds. The first self portrait known to exist was done by an artist in Egypt in the form of a relief for the tomb of Ptah-hotep near Sakkara. There are a few more self portraits of this type in Egypt and Ancient Greece. Self portraits were considered a form of arrogance on the part of the artist. This view started to change at the beginning of the Renaissance when we start seeing self portraits both in sculpture and in painting.

Instead of an isolated self portrait, at the beginning, the self portraits are found as a depiction of the artist participating in an event. For example, Lorenzo Ghiberti sculps his image on the doors of the Baptistery at Florence, Italy. Michelangelo paints his self-portrait in the Sistine Chapel as the skin of St. Bartholomew. By the time of Rembrandt Van Rijn in the 17th century, this famous painter completed 90 self-portraits. Albrecht Durer, Caravaggio, and many, many other artists after them completed magnificent self-portraits.

OLI2015FALL-095partonNowadays, self-portraiture is one of the most common subjects in the arts. Whether photography with Cindy Sherman or painting with the innumerable, excellent self rendering of contemporary artists.

Our own NOAPS Exhibits, show great examples of self-portraiture. NOAPS Fall 2015 Online Exhibit gives us two self-portraits among the Top Finalists: “Self” by Steve Parton, CT, oil 14×11 and “Loss” ,shown at the top of this article, by Ricky Mujica, NY, oil 8×10. “Loss” is the Narrative Excellence Award Winner for the exhibit. It is a beautiful rendering charged with tremendous emotional energy.


This article was written by NOAPS Publicity Director, Hebe Brooks – 01/08/2016






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