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Essays in Self-Portraiture

A Comparison of Technique in the Self-Portraits of Montaigne and Rembrandt


Andrew T. Small

Essays in Self-Portraiture is the first book-length study devoted entirely to comparing the written self-portrait of Montaigne with the painted self-portraits of another artist, Rembrandt. The author begins by examining the nature of self-portraiture, which he defines in relationship to biography, autobiography and portraiture. Thereafter he examines the origin and nature of self-portraiture as a toponymical phenomenon. By pairing specific self-portraits, the author compares Rembrandt and Montaigne in terms of courtiership and in terms of religious wisdom and ignorance. The book closes by showing how both artists used dissimilarity in their self-portraits. By selectively embracing and rejecting certain exemplars, Montaigne and Rembrandt constructed two of our most complete examples of the early modern self.