(in chronological order)
Self-portrait as an Ecce Homo, c.1500
Leonardo da Vinci:
Rembrandt van Rijn:
Vincent van Gogh:
Self-portrait with bandaged ear, 1889
Self-portrait with glass of champagne, 1919
The broken column (Self-portrait), 1944
oil on canvas, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org)- © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Beckmann was one of the most important masters of European painting in the early 20th century. Although he is often considered an “expressionist”, he never identified himself with that movement, although he shared with several expressionist artists the “honour” of being considered a “degenerated artist” by the Nazis. Beckmann was one of the pivotal figures of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), rejecting the rising abstraction, considering that painting had to follow the figurative way. Contrary to many members of the vanguards, he was a studious and admirer of previous masters, from Rembrandt to Cezanne. The influence of the first of them is visible in his now admired self-portraits, as this one from the Metropolitan Museum.
Although the name of Max Beckmann could not be as famous as other early 20th century artists, he is without a doubt one of the great masters of the self-portrait of all time. The Art market, at least, has already recognized it: one of his self-portraits fetched more than $22 million in a Sotheby's auction in May 2001.