Friday, 20 May 2011

Bite 115: Jan van Eyck - Portrait of a Man (Self Portrait?), 1433

Portrait of a Man (Self Portrait?), 1433, oil on oak, 26 x 19 cm, National Gallery, London
A head, almost certainly that of the artist, emerges from darkness. His piercing eyes and ambiguous expression confront the viewer from beneath a red headpiece, light accentuating red detailing. 

The frame, also by the artist, is inscribed, trompe l'oeil - to give the illusion of carving - with the words "Als Ich Can," a pun in Greek meaning "As I/Eyck Can," and below with, "Jan van Eyck made me on 21 October 1433." These references, along with the slight turn of the man's head and his penetrating gaze, strongly suggests at the painting being a self-portrait.