Vincent Van Gogh - Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889)
Henri Rousseau - Myself: Portrait-Landscape (1890)
Any famous artist you can think of has probably made a self-portrait at one time or another -- this is one subject that
is always available for him to paint. He does not have to hire a model or leave his studio in search of inspiration --
all he needs to do is look in the mirror. If he wants to try a new technique, study the human face, capture a look of
happiness, sadness, contentment or anger, he can study his own face. And he can experiment freely, without the
worry that he will offend his subject! Whether it is an elaborate painting or a simple drawing, a convincing likeness
or something altogether abstract, a self-portrait is like an author's autobiography -- one means for the artist to
"speak" about himself.
Vincent Van Gogh painted two dozen self-portraits in his brief, tempestuous career. Taken as a whole, they
chronicle his development as an artist -- ranging from the somber portraits created in browns and grays that
characterized his early attempts, to the brilliantly colored works executed in bold brushstrokes that marked his
maturity as an artist. In all of them, we can sense a man trying to understand himself -- and an artist trying to
capture on canvas, with ruthless honesty, the powerful emotions that etched his face and soul.
French artist Henri Rousseau also painted his self-portrait on occasion, with a great deal of imagination and
invention. Although he was completely unschooled in art, he considered himself a professional -- a master who was
destined to stand tall in the annals of art history. And that was exactly how he chose to paint himself -- as a figure
literally towering above Paris and the world of art.
In this GalleryTime session we examine the self-portraits of these artists -- moving and emotional, whimsical and
monumental - to see what they tell us about the artists, and as a starting point for the children's own self-portraits.
Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear Myself:Portrait-Landscape