Stockholm is such a photogenic city, it’s not surprising to see people taking selfies at every turn. It’s fitting that Sweden’s National Museum, headquartered in Stockholm, has curated Selfies. Now and Then from its collection.
A selfie, they argue, is a natural descendent of the self-portrait. Artists, like Rembrandt, painted themselves by looking in the mirror. ‘It is a process marked by slowness, depth and introspection,’ they write, ‘while the modern-day selfie, with its cropped, from-above perspective, seeks to give the impression of being the work of a moment, improvised and laid-back. And yet, both as a pictorial construction and in relation to body language, fashion and social conventions, it recalls the practised pose we adopt when we view ourselves in a bathroom mirror.’
The grouping includes this 1630, oil on copper, Self Portrait of Rembrandt. The painting was among those stolen in 2000 by a group of thieves who arrived waving sub-machine guns and pistols, grabbed two Renoirs and the Rembrandt and escaped by boat.
Thankfully, a police raid in 2005 recovered the undamaged painting, which was then worth ~35 million.
Other portraits in the Swedish Selfie collection are:
Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl. Gustave Courbet. 1866
Portrait of a Lady, possibly Mrs Pigott of Chetwynd. Joshua Reynolds
The Lady with the Veil (the Artist’s Wife). Alexander Roslin. 1768
Boy playing the Flute. Judith Leyster. 1630s.
Mother Anthony’s Tavern. Auguste Renoir. 1866
The Housekeeper, Brita Maria (Mussa) Banck. Eva Bonnier. 1890
Meanwhile, in 2017 Stockholm, painters and selfie-portrait takers are being inspired by the remarkable backdrop.
Written by Elizabeth Newton