(in chronological order)
Albrecht Dürer: Self-portrait as an Ecce Homo, c.1500
Leonardo da Vinci: Self-portrait, c.1512
Rembrandt van Rijn: Self-portrait, 1659
Vincent van Gogh: Self-portrait with bandaged ear, 1889
Pablo Picasso: Self-portrait, 1901
Egon Schiele: Self-portrait, 1911
Max Beckmann: Self-portrait with glass of champagne, 1919
Frida Kahlo: The broken column (Self-portrait), 1944
Francis Bacon: Self-portrait, 1971
Jean-Michelle Basquiat: Self-portrait, 1982
watercolour, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org)
Died at only 28 years of age, Egon Schiele (1890-1918) is perhaps the most expressionist of all expressionist painters, the author of disturbing figures in tortured foreshortenings, bodies mutilated according to the aims of the artist. His obsession for the “obscure” and even the obscene (male figures masturbating, nude female bodies in explicit postures) scandalized many, but he also got the admiration –though not always admitted- of his contemporaries. Even the much admired Klimt had to admit that the young Schiele was “a better draughtsman than me”.
“My being, my decomposition, transplanted to permanent values, must produce my force in other more developed beings (…). I am so rich I have to give myself away”. No other model pleases the artist as much as himself; he enjoys his self-representation and wishes the world to see it. Schiele, the brutal narcissist, even removes the picture's background, annulling any distraction that could compete with the “permanent me”.