Ritratto allo specchio: L'idea del autoritratto nella prima età moderna

Translated title of the contribution: Portrait in the mirror: The early modern self-portrait

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rise of the self-portrait c. 1500 has long been recognised as pivotal not only to the subsequent development of the history of art but also to the cultural definition of early modernity, as enunciated in Burckhardt’s classic characterisation of the Kultur der Renaissance. Yet the term ‘self-portrait’ is itself a product of Burckhardt’s era, circa 1900, thus complicating our understanding of this pictorial genre’s historical position. Instead, this essay argues that sixteenth-century sources – both of artists and collectors - referred to the category that we define as ‘self-portrait’ by the method of its making – ritratto allo specchio - made before a mirror. This paper takes up sixteenth-century conceptualisations of self-portrayal as a ‘mirror image’ in order to reframe our understanding of Burckhardt’s newly-modern ‘individualism’. It reposes the question of the ‘self-portrait’ as a mirror-image that then becomes a painted image in order to perplex again the notion of a Renaissance subject-hood.
Translated title of the contributionPortrait in the mirror: The early modern self-portrait
Original languageItalian
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


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