Column

A Thousand Words

Rembrandt van Rijn's Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul

For a prolific but not always moneyed artist like Rembrandt, it was natural to turn to the self-portrait as a means of expression: his model was always close at hand and could be summoned into service as long as the painter could afford a mirror. The most self-conscious of artists, Rembrandt painted himself many times—as a boy mugging at the mirror, as a successful young bravo, as a melancholic middle-aged man, and as a dotard. But to portray himself as an apostle? Surely this one is worthy of a little further investigation.

In the seventeenth century, a portrait subject was often . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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