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Portrait of the Artist
This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

The self-portrait as self-promotion

Self-Portrait (after Reynolds)©

Any artist who earns a living through their art needs to find patrons or customers. From the Renaissance onwards, most of those customers have been conscious of buying not just the work of art as an object in itself, but also something of the 'aura' of the artist who created it. Artists have therefore promoted themselves as well as their works, and the self-portrait has been an important tool in this marketing campaign – whether painted for a patron or for display, or printed for mass circulation.

Artists have portrayed themselves as honest craftsmen, as inspired geniuses, as sophisticated courtiers, as pillars of society and as heirs to a long tradition. Almost every self-portrait in this exhibition is a carefully honed image, intended to appeal to a specific audience.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.