Botticelli to Van Gogh

Learning Resource

Oil paining of a seated man in a hat and fur lined coat leaning on a ledge or table.

Rembrandt van Rijn
Self Portrait at the Age of 34


Rembrandt van Rijn. Self Portrait at the Age of 34. 1640. © The National Gallery, London

Look at Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 34 and search for strategies he uses to emotionally connect us, as viewers, to his self-portrait. Where are his eyes focused? Why is one elbow leaning over the ledge into our space?

Think about the difficulties of painting a self-portrait. Can you tell if Rembrandt is right or left-handed?

Create a series of ‘selfies’ with your camera or mobile phone. Try to shift your eyes’ focal point in each photograph and alter your clothes. How do these changes affect the viewer’s connection with your image and their assumptions about who you are?

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