Rembrandt von Rijn painted about 50 paintings of himself as well as 32 etchings and 7 drawings he created on the same subject. In this age of the “selfie” many may be inclined to think that this predilection is self-indulgent but I don’t think this is the case with Rembrandt.
First of all, in the 17th Century such artwork was not even classified as a “self portrait.”
Often painters did paintings of themselves because it was easier than getting a model to sit for them.
In Rembrandt’s case the “self portraits” are so objective that it is very obvious that he was not intending to create a flattering representation. These portraits which create a sort of visual diary span four decades and more than anything show his evolution as a painter and artist. His last “selfies” not only depict the artist as he aged but show just how much his art had changed. His painting became more free and the slick realism of his early work transformed into a very modern and indeed almost futuristic style that in many ways can compare to the Impressionistic work to come two centuries later. For me, these works give new meaning to the word “introspection.”