Artists by Themselves

Associate director Carrie Rebora Barratt on the unique aspects of self-portraiture.

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I like to think that they're looking at me. They're actually looking at themselves.

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  • "Small Things" by Carrie Rebora Barratt
    1280852
  • Portrait of the Artist  |  1821  |  Thomas Sully (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Gift of Mrs. Rosa C. Stanfield, in memory of her father, Henry Robinson, 1894 (94.23.3)
    8371024
  • Self-Portrait  |  1892  |  Charles Angrand (French)  |  Conté crayon  |  Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.566)
    7631024
  • Self-Portrait with a Friend  |  1889  |  Édouard Vuillard (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
    8041024
  • Groom and Horse  |  dated 1296  |  Zhao Mengfu (Chinese)  |  Handscroll, ink and color on paper  |  Gift of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1988.135)
    1280590
  • Portrait of the Artist  |  1878  |  Mary Cassatt (American)  |  Gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood-pulp paper  |  Bequest of Edith H. Proskauer, 1975 (1975.319.1)
    7091024
  • Self-Portrait  |  1660  |  Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.618)
    8561024
  • Mrs. Joseph Anthony, Jr.  |  ca. 1795–98  |  Gilbert Stuart (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Rogers Fund, 1905 (05.40.2)
    8271024
  • Portrait of an Artist  |  ca. 1786  |  Gilbert Stuart (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Fletcher Fund, 1926 (26.16)
    8591024
  • Portrait of an Artist  |  ca. 1786  |  Gilbert Stuart (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Fletcher Fund, 1926 (26.16)
    7751024
  • Self-portrait  |  1927  |  Walker Evans (American)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.67)
    6881024
  • Photo Booth Self-Portrait  |  ca. 1963  |  Andy Warhol (American)  |  Gelatin silver prints  |  Purchase, Rogers Fund, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Adriana and Robert Mnuchin, Harry Kahn, and Anonymous Gifts, in memory of Eugene Schwartz, 1996 (1996.63a, b)
    4991024
  • Anne Dashwood (1743–1830), Later Countess of Galloway  |  1764  |  Sir Joshua Reynolds (British)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Gift of Lillian S. Timken, 1950 (50.238.2)
    8991024
  • Mrs. Horton, Later Viscountess Maynard (died 1814/15)  |  1770  |  Sir Joshua Reynolds (English)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Fletcher Fund, 1945 (45.59.3)
    7901024
  • Self-Portrait  |  1769  |  John Singleton Copley (American)  |  Watercolor on ivory  |  Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, by exchange, Anonymous Gift, and Virginia Marvin Stoughton Bequest, 2006 (2006.235.32)

    8361024
  • Self-Portrait  |  ca. 1810  |  Joseph Wood (American)  |  Watercolor on ivory  |  Gift of Mrs. John R. Wadleigh, 1993 (1993.283)
    8631024
  • Young Woman Drawing  |  1801  |  Marie-Denise Villers (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.204)
    8191024
  • Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Mademoiselle Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Mademoiselle Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788)   |  1785  |  Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5)
    7391024
  • Portrait of the Artist  |  1800  |  John Vanderlyn (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of Ann S. Stephens, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, 1918 (18.118)
    8301024
  • Self-Portrait  |  possibly 1620–21  |  Anthony van Dyck (Flemish)  |  Oil on canvas  |  The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.25)
    7341024
  • Self-Portrait  |  ca. 1866  |  Gustave Courbet (French)  |  Conté crayon  |  Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation and Guy Wildenstein Gifts, 2010 (2010.232)
    8011024
  • Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (verso: The Potato Peeler)  |  1887  |  Vincent van Gogh (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 (67.187.70a)
    8171024
  • Carrie Rebora Barratt
    1280852
  • My name is Carrie Rebora Barratt. I'm associate director for collections and admininstration, and some of my favorite works of art in the Museum are self-portraits of artists.

  • There just seems to me something incredibly spontaneous and intense about an artist trying to convey his own image.

  • I like to think that they're looking at me. They're actually looking at themselves. In order to paint a self-portrait, one would have to be looking into a mirror, and so the

  • direct engagement is so immediate, I find even more immediate than if any of the artists that I know had been painting someone else.

  • I just think it's endlessly fascinating to know what artists look like because they seem like our friends.

  • They are the creators of the works of art that surround us. And many artists

  • as we know, are absolutely captivated with their own image.

  • One of the tell-tale signs of a Gilbert Stuart portrait is that even his prettiest women end up looking a little bit like him.

  • Because it is the face that you know the best. We don't know what they were thinking that day or what the purpose was.

  • And is that an accurate representation? The Gilbert Stuart is a portrait of melancholy. I know exactly when it was painted, I know why it was painted, I know he was bankrupt and going through a divorce. And so the picture of him that looks like he hasn't slept in days is conveyed in that image.

  • In contemporary art, it's one thing to look at an artist's work, it's another, for instance, if you go to an opening and you get to meet them.

  • And sometimes that enhances the pleasure of looking at their work and sometimes it sort of ruins the whole experience.

  • With traditional portrait practice, Sir Joshua Reynolds used to say, you must not bother the sitter for than six, seven, eight sittings at the very, very most.

  • And so what that meant was that most clients for a portrait would sit for an artist within a polite amount of time, then they would continue to work on the face after they left. By nature

  • self-portraits are created with the person in the room. Even if the artist puts down the mirror, they always have access to that face again, especially in the eras that would have required that any kind of work would be commissioned.

  • Portrait of Joseph Wood, which as an aside just absolutely makes me swoon, is so incredibly, timelessly handsome, but it's a sales pitch. It is not only this incredibly romantic image that conveys maybe his best side, but also a work that he would have had out in his miniature studio.

  • In the museum, a number of the self-portraits of women are women in studio positions, so rather than just a head on a canvas, conveying that kind of intense, possibly spiritual aspect of an artist

  • one finds more women at work as a sort of evidence of professional accomplishment. Most of us

  • spend time trying to be with others all the time, in a community, with friends, finding something to do, but to find that space where you are actually not really doing anything

  • except for looking at yourself and trying to record an aspect of yourself in an impermeable medium, fairly profound.

  • We look to these self-portraits for what they must convey about how an artist wanted to present himself. And that artist could take endless license with what he's wearing, what he's holding

  • you know how he conveys himself, and so to that extent there is a bit of salesmanship, a bit of, a bit of lying perhaps going on, but self-portraits are authentic because the convey how the artist would have wanted

  • to project themselves.

  • 94.23.3
    Portrait of the Artist, 1821, Thomas Sully (American), Oil on canvas Gift of Mrs. Rosa C. Stanfield, in memory of her father, Henry Robinson, 1894 (94.23.3)
  • 1975.1.566
    Self-Portrait, 1892, Charles Angrand (French), Conté crayon Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.566)
  • 55.173
    Self-Portrait with a Friend, 1889, Édouard Vuillard (French), Oil on canvas Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
  • 1988.135
    Groom and Horse, dated 1296, Zhao Mengfu (Chinese), Handscroll, ink and color on paper Gift of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1988.135)
  • 1975.319.1
    Portrait of the Artist, 1878, Mary Cassatt (American), Gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood-pulp paper Bequest of Edith H. Proskauer, 1975 (1975.319.1)
  • 14.40.618
    Self-Portrait, 1660, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.618)
  • 05.40.2
    Mrs. Joseph Anthony, Jr., ca. 1795–98, Gilbert Stuart (American), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1905 (05.40.2)
  • 26.16
    Portrait of an Artist, ca. 1786, Gilbert Stuart (American), Oil on canvas Fletcher Fund, 1926 (26.16)
  • 1987.1100.67
    Self-portrait, 1927, Walker Evans (American), Gelatin silver print Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.67)
  • 1996.63a,b
    Photo Booth Self-Portrait, ca. 1963, Andy Warhol (American), Gelatin silver prints Purchase, Rogers Fund, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Adriana and Robert Mnuchin, Harry Kahn, and Anonymous Gifts, in memory of Eugene Schwartz, 1996 (1996.63a, b)
  • 50.238.2
    Anne Dashwood (1743–1830), Later Countess of Galloway, 1764, Sir Joshua Reynolds (British), Oil on canvas Gift of Lillian S. Timken, 1950 (50.238.2)
  • 45.59.3
    Mrs. Horton, Later Viscountess Maynard (died 1814/15), 1770, Sir Joshua Reynolds (English), Oil on canvas Fletcher Fund, 1945 (45.59.3)
  • 2006.235.32

    Self-Portrait, 1769, John Singleton Copley (American), Watercolor on ivory Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, by exchange, Anonymous Gift, and Virginia Marvin Stoughton Bequest, 2006 (2006.235.32)

  • 1993.283
    Self-Portrait, ca. 1810, Joseph Wood (American), Watercolor on ivory Gift of Mrs. John R. Wadleigh, 1993 (1993.283)
  • 17.120.204
    Young Woman Drawing, 1801, Marie-Denise Villers (French), Oil on canvas Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.204)
  • 53.225.5
    Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Mademoiselle Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Mademoiselle Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788) , 1785, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French), Oil on canvas Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5)
  • 18.118
    Portrait of the Artist, 1800, John Vanderlyn (American), Oil on canvas Bequest of Ann S. Stephens, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, 1918 (18.118)
  • 49.7.25
    Self-Portrait, possibly 1620–21, Anthony van Dyck (Flemish), Oil on canvas The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.25)
  • 2010.232
    Self-Portrait, ca. 1866, Gustave Courbet (French), Conté crayon Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation and Guy Wildenstein Gifts, 2010 (2010.232)
  • 67.187.70a
    Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (verso: The Potato Peeler), 1887, Vincent van Gogh (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 (67.187.70a)
  • Portrait of the Artist, 1821, Thomas Sully (American), Oil on canvas Gift of Mrs. Rosa C. Stanfield, in memory of her father, Henry Robinson, 1894 (94.23.3)
    Self-Portrait, 1892, Charles Angrand (French), Conté crayon Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.566)
    Self-Portrait with a Friend, 1889, Édouard Vuillard (French), Oil on canvas Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
    Groom and Horse, dated 1296, Zhao Mengfu (Chinese), Handscroll, ink and color on paper Gift of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1988.135)
    Portrait of the Artist, 1878, Mary Cassatt (American), Gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood-pulp paper Bequest of Edith H. Proskauer, 1975 (1975.319.1)
    Self-Portrait, 1660, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.618)
    Mrs. Joseph Anthony, Jr., ca. 1795–98, Gilbert Stuart (American), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1905 (05.40.2)
    Portrait of an Artist, ca. 1786, Gilbert Stuart (American), Oil on canvas Fletcher Fund, 1926 (26.16)
    Self-portrait, 1927, Walker Evans (American), Gelatin silver print Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.67)
    Photo Booth Self-Portrait, ca. 1963, Andy Warhol (American), Gelatin silver prints Purchase, Rogers Fund, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Adriana and Robert Mnuchin, Harry Kahn, and Anonymous Gifts, in memory of Eugene Schwartz, 1996 (1996.63a, b)
    Anne Dashwood (1743–1830), Later Countess of Galloway, 1764, Sir Joshua Reynolds (British), Oil on canvas Gift of Lillian S. Timken, 1950 (50.238.2)
    Mrs. Horton, Later Viscountess Maynard (died 1814/15), 1770, Sir Joshua Reynolds (English), Oil on canvas Fletcher Fund, 1945 (45.59.3)

    Self-Portrait, 1769, John Singleton Copley (American), Watercolor on ivory Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, by exchange, Anonymous Gift, and Virginia Marvin Stoughton Bequest, 2006 (2006.235.32)

    Self-Portrait, ca. 1810, Joseph Wood (American), Watercolor on ivory Gift of Mrs. John R. Wadleigh, 1993 (1993.283)
    Young Woman Drawing, 1801, Marie-Denise Villers (French), Oil on canvas Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.204)
    Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Mademoiselle Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Mademoiselle Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788) , 1785, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French), Oil on canvas Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5)
    Portrait of the Artist, 1800, John Vanderlyn (American), Oil on canvas Bequest of Ann S. Stephens, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, 1918 (18.118)
    Self-Portrait, possibly 1620–21, Anthony van Dyck (Flemish), Oil on canvas The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.25)
    Self-Portrait, ca. 1866, Gustave Courbet (French), Conté crayon Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation and Guy Wildenstein Gifts, 2010 (2010.232)
    Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (verso: The Potato Peeler), 1887, Vincent van Gogh (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 (67.187.70a)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    Portrait of the Artist
    1821
    Thomas Sully (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Gift of Mrs. Rosa C. Stanfield, in memory of her father, Henry Robinson, 1894 (94.23.3)
    On view: Gallery 774
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Self-Portrait
    1892
    Charles Angrand (French)
    Conté crayon
    Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.566)
    Not on view
    The Robert Lehman CollectionFirst Floor
    Self-Portrait with a Friend
    1889
    Édouard Vuillard (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
    On view: Gallery 813
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Groom and Horse
    dated 1296
    Zhao Mengfu (Chinese)
    Handscroll, ink and color on paper
    Gift of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1988.135)
    Not on view
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Portrait of the Artist
    1878
    Mary Cassatt (American)
    Gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood-pulp paper
    Bequest of Edith H. Proskauer, 1975 (1975.319.1)
    Not on view
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Self-Portrait
    1660
    Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.618)
    On view: Gallery 634
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Mrs. Joseph Anthony, Jr.
    ca. 1795–98
    Gilbert Stuart (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Rogers Fund, 1905 (05.40.2)
    On view: Gallery 774
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Portrait of an Artist
    ca. 1786
    Gilbert Stuart (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Fletcher Fund, 1926 (26.16)
    On view: Gallery 774
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Self-portrait
    1927
    Walker Evans (American)
    Gelatin silver print
    Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.67)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Photo Booth Self-Portrait
    ca. 1963
    Andy Warhol (American)
    Gelatin silver prints
    Purchase, Rogers Fund, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Adriana and Robert Mnuchin, Harry Kahn, and Anonymous Gifts, in memory of Eugene Schwartz, 1996 (1996.63a, b)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Anne Dashwood (1743–1830), Later Countess of Galloway
    1764
    Sir Joshua Reynolds (British)
    Oil on canvas
    Gift of Lillian S. Timken, 1950 (50.238.2)
    On view: Gallery 513
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Mrs. Horton, Later Viscountess Maynard (died 1814/15)
    1770
    Sir Joshua Reynolds (English)
    Oil on canvas
    Fletcher Fund, 1945 (45.59.3)
    Not on view
    European PaintingsSecond Floor

    Self-Portrait
    1769
    John Singleton Copley (American)
    Watercolor on ivory
    Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, by exchange, Anonymous Gift, and Virginia Marvin Stoughton Bequest, 2006 (2006.235.32)

    Not on view
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Self-Portrait
    ca. 1810
    Joseph Wood (American)
    Watercolor on ivory
    Gift of Mrs. John R. Wadleigh, 1993 (1993.283)
    Not on view
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Young Woman Drawing
    1801
    Marie-Denise Villers (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.204)
    On view: Gallery 613
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Mademoiselle Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Mademoiselle Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788)
    1785
    Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5)
    On view: Gallery 613
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Portrait of the Artist
    1800
    John Vanderlyn (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Ann S. Stephens, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, 1918 (18.118)
    On view: Gallery 756
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Self-Portrait
    possibly 1620–21
    Anthony van Dyck (Flemish)
    Oil on canvas
    The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.25)
    On view: Gallery 628
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Self-Portrait
    ca. 1866
    Gustave Courbet (French)
    Conté crayon
    Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation and Guy Wildenstein Gifts, 2010 (2010.232)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (verso: The Potato Peeler)
    1887
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 (67.187.70a)
    On view: Gallery 826
    European PaintingsSecond Floor

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