Self-portraits have been made since the earliest times, it is not until the Early Renaissance in the mid-15th century that artists can be frequently identified depicting themselves as either the main subject, or as important characters in their work.

Renaissance self portraits; with better and cheaper mirrors, and the advent of the panel portrait, many painters, sculptors and printmakers tried some form of it. Portrait of a Man in a Turban by Jan van Eyck of 1433 may well be the earliest known panel self-portrait. He painted a separate portrait of his wife, and he belonged to the social group that had begun to commission portraits, already more common among wealthy Netherlanders than south of the Alps. The genre is venerable, but not until the Renaissance, with increased wealth and interest in the individual as a subject, did it become truly popular. [wiki]

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1785, with two pupils. A "subjects-eye" view of the painter at work. It seems likely that women society portraitists did actually paint wearing fashionable clothes like this.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1785, with two pupils. A “subjects-eye” view of the painter at work. It seems likely that women society portraitists did actually paint wearing fashionable clothes like this.

Caterina van Hemessen's 1548 self-portrait, perhaps the oldest self-portrait of a female oil-painter, though much earlier examples of manuscript painters exist. Hemessen Selbstbildnis

Caterina van Hemessen’s 1548 self-portrait, perhaps the oldest self-portrait of a female oil-painter, though much earlier examples of manuscript painters exist. Hemessen Selbstbildnis

1902 - Gwen John

1902 – Gwen John

Joseph Wright of Derby Self-portrait (1765-1768)

Joseph Wright of Derby Self-portrait (1765-1768)

Marie Ellenrieder, self portrait, 1819. A German religious artist and the first woman to enter the Academy of Munich.

Marie Ellenrieder, self portrait, 1819. A German religious artist and the first woman to enter the Academy of Munich.

Marie-Denise Villers, Young Woman Drawing, 1801, thought to be her self-portrait, and her most famous and finest painting. Originally attributed to Jacques-Louis David.

Marie-Denise Villers, Young Woman Drawing, 1801, thought to be her self-portrait, and her most famous and finest painting. Originally attributed to Jacques-Louis David.

Raphael, c. 1517–1518 Raffaello_Sanzio

Raphael, c. 1517–1518 Raffaello_Sanzio

Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532–1625) of Cremona served as court painter to the Queen of Spain, and painted several self-portraits and many images of her family. c.1556

Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532–1625) of Cremona served as court painter to the Queen of Spain, and painted several self-portraits and many images of her family. c.1556

Rogier van der Weyden, as Saint Luke, makes a drawing for his painting of the Virgin. Boston, c. 1440.

Rogier van der Weyden, as Saint Luke, makes a drawing for his painting of the Virgin. Boston, c. 1440.

Self-portrait, Wouter Johannes van Troostwijk, c. 1809

Self-portrait, Wouter Johannes van Troostwijk, c. 1809

Self-Portrait, Willem Hendrik Schmidt, 1840 - 1849

Self-Portrait, Willem Hendrik Schmidt, 1840 – 1849

Vincent van Gogh, 1887

Vincent van Gogh, 1887

Louis Meijer, 1838

Louis Meijer, 1838

Johann Georg Schwartze, 1869

Johann Georg Schwartze, 1869

Jan Kamphuysen, 1825

Jan Kamphuysen, 1825

Émile Bernard, 1897

Émile Bernard, 1897

Christoffel Frederik Franck, 1800 - 1818

Christoffel Frederik Franck, 1800 – 1818

Charles Saligo, 1824 - 1826

Charles Saligo, 1824 – 1826

Standing beside the Artist is his Father and Teacher Jan Maurits Quinkhard (1688-1772), Julius Henricus Quinkhard, 1757

Standing beside the Artist is his Father and Teacher Jan Maurits Quinkhard (1688-1772), Julius Henricus Quinkhard, 1757

Self Portrait with his wife Sanneke van Bommel and their two Children, Hendrik Spilman, 1761 - 1784

Self Portrait with his wife Sanneke van Bommel and their two Children, Hendrik Spilman, 1761 – 1784

Self Portrait in the Uniform of the Jagers, Willem Jodocus Mattheus Engelberts, 1831

Self Portrait in the Uniform of the Jagers, Willem Jodocus Mattheus Engelberts, 1831

Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1661

Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1661

Portrait of a Man in a Turban or Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban) is an oil painting by the Early Netherlandish master Jan van Eyck, from 1433

Portrait of a Man in a Turban or Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban) is an oil painting by the Early Netherlandish master Jan van Eyck, from 1433

George Desmarées and his daughter, 1750, Munich.

George Desmarées and his daughter, 1750, Munich.

Johannes Gumpp, 1646, shows how most self-portraits were painted.

Johannes Gumpp, 1646, shows how most self-portraits were painted.

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-portrait, 1610, aged 78, the last of her many self-portraits, though she was painted later by Van Dyck.

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-portrait, 1610, aged 78, the last of her many self-portraits, though she was painted later by Van Dyck.

Allegory of Prudence, Titian, his son and the cousin he had virtually adopted, as Past, Present and Future. National Gallery, London, late 1560s.

Allegory of Prudence, Titian, his son and the cousin he had virtually adopted, as Past, Present and Future. National Gallery, London, late 1560s.

Tizian c. 1567; Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Tizian c. 1567; Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Goliath in this late Caravaggio David with the head of Goliath is a self-portrait. 1605–10, Galleria Borghese, Rome.

Goliath in this late Caravaggio David with the head of Goliath is a self-portrait. 1605–10, Galleria Borghese, Rome.

Goya at the age of 74, Self-portrait with Doctor Arrieta, 1820, Minneapolis.

Goya at the age of 74, Self-portrait with Doctor Arrieta, 1820, Minneapolis.

Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait, dedicated to Gauguin, 1888

Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait, dedicated to Gauguin, 1888

Rembrandt, The Artist in his Studio, 1628, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Rembrandt, The Artist in his Studio, 1628, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

One of the most distinguished, and oldest, collections of Renaissance self portraits are in the Vasari Corridor of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was originally the collection by the Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici in the second part of the 17th century and has been maintained and expanded until the present time. It is mostly not on view for general visitors, although some paintings are shown in the main galleries. Many famous artists have not been able to resist an invitation to donate a self-portrait to the collection. It comprises more than 200 portraits, in particular those of Pietro da Cortona, Charles Le Brun, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Marc Chagall. Other important collections are housed at the National Portrait Gallery (United Kingdom) in London (with various satellite outstations elsewhere), and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C..


You can find more and detailed information about Renaissance self portraits and self-portraiture at its wikipedia page.