'Selfies' of the 17th century highlighted in Dutch exhibition

Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:03pm EDT
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By Thomas Escritt

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The selfie may be a contemporary look, but a Dutch museum aims to show that its roots go back centuries.

In an upcoming exhibition, the Mauritshuis in The Hague is showing a collection of self-portraits by master artists including Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Carel Fabritius and Gerrit Dou from Dutch painting's 17th century Golden Age.

The self-portrait was particularly popular among Dutch painters of the period. Rembrandt alone painted and drew dozens over his lifetime, tracing the aging of a brash and self-confident young genius into a bowed and disappointed bankrupt.

The exhibition, "Dutch Self-Portraits - Selfies from the Golden Age", will gather 27 mostly loaned paintings showing the ways artists chose to represent themselves -- as wealthy bourgeois, family men, hunters or professional painters.

While anybody with a smartphone can make a selfie nowadays, back then the self-portrait was the preserve of the highly skilled, the museum said in a statement on Thursday.

"But one thing remained unchanged: the fact that the creators of a self-portrait must choose how they want to present themselves," it said.

The same goes for all self-portraits, from Boschaert's possessive glance as he clutches his pallet and brushes in his 1630s "Self-Portrait" to today's duckface in the pub.

The exhibition opens on Oct. 8 in the Mauritshuis, home to one of the world's most important collections of Dutch Golden Age paintings, including Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring". It runs until Jan. 3.   Continued...