A Tale of Two Self Portraits

It is really interesting to compare these two self portraits. I think that there are more differences than similarities.

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), a Northern Renaissance painter, knew that he was God’s gift to painting. He was an amazing painter from a very early age. You can see all of that in this self portrait of a young man in his prime striking the pose that most artists would only use to paint Jesus at that time. Because painters were thought of so highly at this time, Durer really let it go to his head. His painting shows his self-absorded confidence.

I contrast we see the self portait of a woman from the impressionistic days. Mary Cassatt is pensive, demure, and not even looking at the viewer. Oddly enough she doesn’t paint herself in this manner because it described her personality. She was a very independent woman who never even married. She said “I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work.”

She also was quoted saying this in a world where photography was becoming increasingly popular: “If painting is no longer needed, it seems a pity that some of us are born into the world with such a passion for line and color.”

I think that these two very different people painted in these different styles partly because one was a man and the other a woman, but more importantly, it shows how society had changed its views towards the art of painting.


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