The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History


Art historian James Hall examines the genre of self-portraiture from middle ages to the present.


Self-portraiture has become the defining artistic genre of in our modern age. A wide range of contemporary self-portraits, including many with realistic, surrealist and statement approaches, is available to offer different insights into identity and individualism. 

Focusing on a popular subject, James Hall, illustrates the history of the self-portraiture genre, from the earliest myths of Narcissus to the self-image-making of today's contemporary artists. 

The book tells the vivid history of works that offer insights into artists’ personal, psychological, and creative worlds.

Published by Thames & Hudson, the book description below tells it all about  what you need to know about this helpful guide into self-portraits:

"Topics include the importance of the medieval mirror craze in early self-portraiture; the confessional self-portraits of Titian and Michelangelo; the mystique of the artist’s studio, from Vermeer to Velázquez; the role of biography and geography for serial self-portraitists such as Courbet and Van Gogh; the multiple selves of modern and contemporary artists such as Cahun and Sherman; and recent developments in the era of globalization.

Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated, the book features the work of a wide range of artists including Beckmann, Caravaggio, Dürer, Gentileschi, Ghiberti, Giotto, Goya, Kahlo, Kauffman, Magritte, Mantegna, Picasso, Poussin, Raphael, Rembrandt and Van Eyck. The full range of the subject is explored, including comic and caricature self-portraits, “invented” or imaginary self-portraits, and important collections of self-portraiture such as that of the Medici."


And in the same format, Thames & Hudson publishes another book on Self-Portraits, and this time it is only dedicated to women artists. Written by Frances Borzello, 'Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits'

The author expresses her passion and interest in feminine self-portratis, and the preface is succcessful to make you feel curious about the rest of the book. She begins with “Every word of this book is underpinned by the historians who have written about women and art in the past three decade.” and she continues: “The feminist art historians gave me the confidence to see female self-portraiture as a valid subject of research, and so my first thank you goes to them.”


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