Rembrandt van Rijn's Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul by Mary Elizabeth Podles

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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 . . .