Saturday, March 8, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Self Portrait, 1500 (Albrecht Dürer)

One of the things I love most about Albrecht Dürer was that he was good... and he knew it.  It wasn't so much an arrogance, but a really great sense of self-confidence, and yet enough humility to know exactly where his skill came from.  This wasn't something created from within him, but a gift of God.  This comes across in one of his greatest self-portraits from 1500, also known as Self Portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe.  Many may look at this and think he is trying to deify himself by making himself look like Christ.  That's partially true, but not exactly... but sort of.. ish.  Not only in his likeness, but also in his pose, he presents himself in a very Christ-like appearance, but this isn't necessarily out of a sense of grandeur or blasphemous self-righteousness.  He is taking Paul's command to be "imitators of Christ" to the artistic level by saying "I want to imitate Christ and His perfection in my art.  As perfect and beautiful as Christ was, so I want my work to be." 
I often think about my own work as an artist as my way of imitating Christ... by depicting the way I see the beauty of God in creation and in humanity.  This is what Dürer wanted to accomplish as well.  In any case, this is certainly one of his greatest paintings and it certainly demonstrates his great skill as an artist.  And if his careful and reverent handling of the paint in this piece is any indication of his reverence for God, I'd say his faith was equally as solid.
As a mark of his confidence in painting, Dürer inscribed the following statement on the right side of the painting:  "Thus I, Albrecht Dürer from Nuremburg, painted myself with indelible colors at the age of 28 years."

Self Portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe
oil on lime panel

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