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'The Selfie Series'

Van Eyck ‘Portrait of a Man’

Early self-portraits emerge in the early to middle Renaissance era, around the beginning of the 15th century. Some sources have identified the ‘Portrait of a Man’ painted by Jan van Eyck in 1433 as the world’s first self-portrait.

This amazing portrait, which resides in London’s National Gallery, has the inscription at the top of the frame, “Als Ich Can” which translates to “as I Eyck can”. Van Eyck did sign his painting but this portrait of a man in a turban has a direct piercing gaze, the mirror like polish – van Eyck’s trademark – giving a very lifelike quality. The painting is a third life-size with the sitter sitting three-quarters profile, sheer colour pigments showing the stubble on his face and semi-bloodshot eyes looking directly at you.

My homage to this painting was a challenge to recreate. The sheer pigments and smooth mirror-like surface was an exercise in itself. The minute detail of the lines and shading definitely stretched my capability.

My tribute to van Eyck is framed in an antique hand carved gilt wood frame, sourced from Ardingly Antiques Fair and is available through Hatton House Art and Design, Dunkeld, Scotland.


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