Trends & Inspiration

The History of the Selfie: Then and Now

Kim Kardashian once stated that “[t]aking selfies is the purpose of life.” That being said, IWOOT takes a look at the history of the selfie and deciphers why we can’t live without a good self-portrait.

Since the earliest of times, mankind has depicted himself through art. On the cave walls of the Lascaux Cave, the sculptures on the Parthenon, and the many #selfies of Instagram, self-portraits have become a way of life. Taking off in full style during the Early Renaissance, it was mid-way through the 15th century that artists regularly began to depict themselves as the main subject of their work. The earliest known panel self-portrait is Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of a Man in a Turban dating back to 1433. Many artists have used selfies to control the distribution of their own image. Often painting themselves in a flattering light, they created ‘enhanced’ versions of themselves much like the Valencia filter of today. We count down the top selfie stars of the past 6 centuries.

  1. Albrech Durer

    Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

    Old Al could be classed as the first prolific selfie-er. Conscious of his public image, Durer produced at least twelve self-portraits during his short lifetime. Silverpoints, oil paintings, and alter-pieces depict him at various stages of his life and were used to show off his good looks to his mates and girlfriend. Not satisfied with painting himself as a dandy in trendy Italian fashion, Durer went that one step further and selfied with a pretty strong resemblance to Jesus Christ.

    Replicate his genius with a Pocket Selfie Stick.

  2. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669)

    Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, stage name Rembrandt, depicted himself a whopping 40 times throughout his career. It is also known that he had his students replicate his many self-portraits as part of their training. Many of Rembrandt’s selfies show him in fancy dress, posing and pulling funny faces.

    Beat Rembrandt’s selfie record with a comical backdrop and fancy dress.

  3. Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)

    Maybe the most famous and prolific selfie stars of the 19th century, van Gogh drew and painted his own face more than 43 times. Preferring to look away from the spectator, his gaze is often fixed out of shot.

    To master van Gogh’s nonchalant gaze use a selfie timer.

  4. Kylie Jenner (1997-Present)

    King Kylie is famously known for her insurmountable amount of self-portraits. From selfies to belfies, her imagery provides a view of all aspects of her life. As a  21st century artist, her work covers the trials and tribulations of a teenage ‘Valley Girl’.

    To master Kylie’s perfect pics, try a selfie light.


Images Sourced from Wikipedia and Instagram @kyliejenner

Georgia Leitch

Georgia Leitch

Shopping Editor

Currently obsessed with copper, marble and throw cushions, I am committed to hunting down the latest homeware trends and delivering the best gift lists. A sucker for quirky packaging and fancy treats, you can find me at the unboxing of a Mystery Gift Box.

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