Self-Portrait of the Artist

An untidy history of artists' representations of themselves in pretty much any form you can think of (painting & sculpture, poetry & prose, photo & film…) — updated every third day and open for suggestions.

Tag: Germany

The artist’s hand.

Menzel - Hand des Kunstlers mit Farbnapf 1864

The artist’s hand has been his earliest object of self-portrayal, ever since the (probable?) dawn of art in the paleolithic.

That was during the last ‘ice age’ — but I reckon Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel did not know this, as he set about painting the Artist’s hand with ice cube in 1864.

Sixteen years earlier he had experimented on the same subject with his Right hand drawn with the left hand; twenty-two years later he would paint his own foot.


The artist’s foot.


The Artist’s foot (1876) belongs to Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel.

He was seventy-one at the time, and probably the most popular German painter living. In portraying his own foot he is claiming to the artist’s unlimited power of choice.

He has also left us a few portraits of his right hand (being left-handed). The self-portrait below, from von Menzel’s sketch-book of the same year, is as unusual in the way the composition is framed.


(No doubt, von Menzel could hardly have guessed how popular foot self-portraiture would become in our days…)