Albrecht Dürer - Selbstbildnis


Self-Portrait, 1484


Albrecht Dürer was thirteen years old when he sat down one day in front of a mirror with a silver point and a carefully grounded leaf. It is said that he painted remarkable drawings already as a 9 year old.

He studied the art of portrayal, beginning with himself (before he found the confidence to require the patience and the trust of a model to be portrayed).

So, three remarkable things happened at the same time in this year 1484: 

For one thing, it is the first document in the long line of a picturial autobiography (only Rembrandt painted more self-portraits). Secondly, it is the first self-portrait in art history, at least on this side of the Alps (aside from occasional self-portraits of artists in the background as part of a larger historical or mythological context, a method which was meant to be more a signature).

Finally and even in two ways, this piece is the first child portrait - it is the first portrait of a child by a child. The tender and confident silver lines show us the soft hair and the pure curves of the face and the natural beauty of the child which spontaneously activates all the feelings of affection ... In those mild lines, there is the breath of an untouched feeling of simply being, of the unconscious devotion to Life in itself.