Albrecht Dürer’s Self-Portrait at 28 is a panel painting completed just before his 29th birthday in 1500. Considered the most personal, iconic and complex of his self-portraits, it is a rare example of an early self-portrait which were extremely uncommon at the time. Dürer was highly concerned with his public image, repeatedly inserting self-portraits into his works to showcase his mastery and to convey an assured self-confidence.
The portrait marks a key point in the artist’s life as well as the start of a new millennium. Bearing an arrogant expression that betrays the youthful bravado and confidence of a masterful young artist, Dürer depicts himself indoors under an arch, turning towards the viewer in half length. This painting is unique for its detailed depiction of fine textures such as stitching on garments or strands of hair making it truly exceptional work from across Europe.
The Self-Portrait at 28 was sold or given by Dürer to the City Council of Nuremberg where it was on public display until the early 19th century. Today it can be found in several international museums including Alte Pinakothek Munich Germany with other paintings by famous artists like Giovanni Bellini and Rembrandt van Rijn among others.
Overall, this iconic masterpiece showcases unprecedented realism with its sharp attention to detail and marked departure from traditional portrait standards. Its cultural significance comes from being one of few existing specimens completing fifty two years prior to William Shakespeare’s birth-making it a veritable time capsule that captures an unprecedented era transitioning into modernity using art as creative masterpieces expressing individualism rather than just royal or noble preference.