Portrait Painting History

Self-portraiture made by custom painting kits is an established type of art that originated from ancient Egypt. Before photography emerged in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, painting, sculpture, or sketched portrait were the only ways to capture someone’s appearance.

Artists use self-portraits to express their emotions, connect with others, reshape their personality, and get reminded of their roots. Some examples of all-time artists and their masterpieces are Picasso’s paintings of women which were identified as portraits of lovers.

Additionally, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa portrait give a virtual representation of joy and Egon Schiele’s the German Expressionist draughtsman portray a peculiar style of German expressionism.

Self-portrait Painting History

A few of the Egyptian art and Ancient Greek’s self-portraits were discovered and completed by the Curators during Antiquity. Time has desolated the other pieces, leaving only several paintings without a hint of specific ancient artists. Therefore, sculptures and panel paintings have survived to tell the tale of portraits.

Some of the pioneering self-portraits are the head sculpture of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten which dates back from 1365 BCE. This portrait was sculpted by Bak who also created a portrait of the same controversial Egyptian Pharaoh.

Flemish and German Renaissance

Jan Van Eyck, who was a Northern Renaissance painter, had the earliest surfing portraits after Antiquity. Hendrik Goltziuz and Joachim Wtewael both made a masterpiece of the Italian paintings and local traditions of the Early Netherlandish artists. The reputable artistic center in the region was Antwerp.

Various artists such as Bosch, whose paintings have embarked a long legacy, Maarte van Heemskerck, Jan Mabuse, and Frans Floris favorited models in painting their own language. Many other artists portrayed landscape painting, genre painting, and so on. Pieter Brueghel, alongside Bosch, remained familiar because of his masterpieces on the scene in Antwerp.

Italian Renaissance

During this era, the Italian painters opted to avoid formal self-portraits. Instead, artists inserted images of themselves on the portrait. For instance, Masaccio inserted himself as an apostle in his work Brancacci Chapel Fescoes.

Piero della Francesca introduced himself in the painting as a soldier in his Resurrection followed by various artists. Leonardo da Vinci and Florentine Gentile Bellini, on the other hand, have portrayed more formal self-portrait.

Baroque/Rococo/Neo-Classical (1600-1800)

This represents the introduction of easel-painting as well as the extensive use of oils on any portraiture of any subjects. This era brought artists such as the Mannerist el Greco, Zurbaran, the Spanish Masters, Nicholas Poussin (French academic painter), the prodigy Rembrandt (who portrayed over 40 self-portraits), and other famous artists who contributed their masterworks to the spotlight.

Nineteenth-Century Self Portraits

Artists in this later era painted themselves individually and in groups. The 19th century famous self-portraits include the pieces of Eugene Delacroix and James Mcneil among many others. French Realist Gustave Courbet’s The Artist’s Studio became the most creative portrait.

Twentieth Century Self Portraits

Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste, and William Orpen are just a few of the many artists who created stylistic self-portraits in this century. While Egon Schiele painted the animalistic view of men such as Eros or Grisly Nude, Edvard Munch portrayed himself to represent the ill-treatment he suffered at the help of Fate. Also, Pablo Picasso made a range of autobiographical portraits of himself of different stages.


Contemporary art is created and produced by artists in the present era. Modern artists work and adapt to the international situation that is culturally complex, technologically sophisticated, and multifaceted. Some of these are Andy Warhol’s Pop Arts portraits, Francis Bacon’s portraits in oils, and many more.

Photographic Self-Portraits

These self-portraits are image processing techniques, well-considered and aimed to produce a meaningful image of yourself. Selfies are usually shot easily with a mobile camera and discarded if they are not acceptable.


Painting self portraits continues to flourish in the 21st century. Famous artists, modern or archaic, paint their family, lovers, friends, and other subjects. London’s National Portrait Gallery has over 200,000 collections of self-portraits art enthusiasts could enjoy. Some are distributed around the globe such as the Florentine Museum in Florence.