MET Visit: Portraits

Hello everyone! Almost two weeks ago, Friday November 2nd, I had the chance to go to the MET again. It was super amazing, as always, and very exciting. Luckily, I was able to see the Delacroix exhibition and the Dutch Masterpieces exhibition. In both of these exhibitions, there were beautiful self-portraits of artists, specially Delacroix and Rembrandt, that were interesting to see.

Self-Portrait in a Green Vest, 1837

This is in the MET now, but it comes from the Musee du Lourve. It is believed that Delacroix was turning forty when he created this. Delacroix was a French painter during the Romantic era (1800-1850). This time was very unique because many fields were taking different approaches in the way they represented ideas. For instance, artists were creating art that showed the public the corruptive nature of humans and the bad sides of humanity, politics, upper class, etc (think of Goya’s Third of May painting). While artists were exposing the truth, literary figures were creating works that were romantic, exploring the ideas of love, death, etc (an example of this is Lord Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty” poem). I think it’s fascinating to see the different approaches that were being taking during this one time period in society.

Self-Portrait, 1660

Here Rembrandt is around fifty-four years old, and his age can be seen in the depiction of his face with wrinkles. This painting is probably the most known self portrait by Rembrandt of himself. On the MET page, there is an audio section that goes over this painting well. Rembrandt was a dutch painter during the Baroque period (and Dutch Golden Age). His work goes over a variety of different topics, from religion to landscape to portraits.

Interestingly, both these paintings have the same tones. They both have a brownish background, and tan-white skin colors. This makes me wondering if Delacroix may have been influenced by this painting of Rembrandt, since he came after Rembrandt.

Additionally, another aspect that intrigued me was that both of these portraits didn’t seem that large. Delacroix painting was 25 9/16 x 21 7/16 inches, while Rembrandt’s was 31 5/8 x 26 1/2 inches. These are relatively large, but in person they had felt small. Studying these works in an academic way always makes art pieces feel large. Then in person, it can have a completely different effect.

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