What is a self-portrait anyway?

Recently at the Drawing Room in London, the elegant exhibition – CLOSE: Drawn Portraits – brought together examples of artists’ portraits and self-portraits from over two hundred years of artistic production. Encompassing a period from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres to Claudette Johnson, the exhibition revealed the historical and stylistic differences across this time, but perhaps more surprisingly, it emphasised much more the artworks’ shared characteristics and the artists’ shared endeavours. Above all, what connected the artworks in this exhibition was twofold: on the one hand, their subject matter – all of them portrayals of people; and on the other, their media – the use of graphic arts to encapsulate, interrogate, or express their human subjects.

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