William Packer

The Egoist’s Muse

Face to Face: British Self-Portraits in the Twentieth Century

By

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THE SELF-PORTRAIT IS one of the most fascinating of the secondary disciplines of Western painting. It is certainly one of the most revelatory. Who am I? What am I? And, peering into that other world beyond the looking-glass, Where am I? The questions come thick and fast. Most painters do a self-Portrait at one time or another, if only as a student exercise, or as a convenience – for there is no model more biddable than oneself. Yet, whatever the painting’s provenance, it inevitably grows into something more, because those questions are inescapable. For some of the greatest artists – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Max Beckmann, Lucian Freud – the self-portrait became a lifelong habit and study in itself.

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