Portraits of men oftentimes depict them having a commanding air, physical strength, and moral and social authority.
Since the Sixteenth Century, artists have employed models to pose for them in their ateliers. Most of them posed in the nude. Most of them have remained unknown, but even if they have been identified, their identity was irrelevant to the purpose they served the artist*.
When we look at portraits, we see individuals who are now dead or are older than and different from the way they were represented, but portraits seem to transport us into an actual moment that existed in the past when the artist and sitter encountered each other in a real time and place*.
Whether or not a portrait was actually based on a sitting, the transaction between the artist and sitter is evoked in the imagination of the viewer*.
Self-portraits remain crucial in studying the technique of the artist. As having a model or a patron is unnecessary in the artist’s creation of his/her self-portrait, the artist becomes more unrestricted in depicting himself/herself.
Truly, a self-portrait is an indication of the artist’s perception about himself/herself. Whether the artist chooses to paint (or sculpt) his/her image as a person of standing, as an idealized impression, or an anxious and dismayed being, he/she is left at his/her volition.
*Source: West, Shearer. 2004. Portraiture. United Kingdom. Oxford University Press.