About the Art

Self Portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn

Watch a scene from Hidden Treasures

Though Dürer is credited with being the first artist to consistently create self-portraits, Rembrandt is the first artist to intensely study the self through art. During his life time, 1606-1669, Rembrandt sketched his own face thousands of times. He created an autobiographical legacy that depicts his history, and chronicles his turbulent life. From rags to riches, through marriages and mistresses, from youth to old age, we can witness the changing face of Rembrandt.

In this unsparing self-portrait from 1660, his hardships of losing a wife, a companion, three children and suffering a bankruptcy are evident. This 2006 NPR podcast about Rembrandt’s self-portraits includes observation by Alex Katz and Chuck Close.