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Dutch Exhibit to Highlight 17th-Century 'Selfies'

  • Reuters

Rembrandt Self-Portrait, 1669. (Part of the Mauritshuis collection, The Hague)

Rembrandt Self-Portrait, 1669. (Part of the Mauritshuis collection, The Hague)

The selfie may be a contemporary look, but a Dutch museum aims to show that its roots go back centuries.

In an upcoming exhibition, the Mauritshuis in The Hague is showing a collection of self-portraits by master artists including Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Carel Fabritius and Gerrit Dou from Dutch painting's 17th-century Golden Age.

The self-portrait was particularly popular among Dutch painters of the period. Rembrandt alone painted and drew dozens over his lifetime, tracing the aging of a brash and self-confident young genius into a bowed and disappointed bankrupt.

The exhibition, "Dutch Self-Portraits - Selfies from the Golden Age," will gather 27 mostly loaned paintings showing the ways artists chose to represent themselves - as wealthy bourgeois, family men, hunters or professional painters.

While anybody with a smartphone can make a selfie nowadays, back then the self-portrait was the preserve of the highly skilled, the museum said in a statement last week.

"But one thing remained unchanged: the fact that the creators of a self-portrait must choose how they want to present themselves," it said.

The same goes for all self-portraits, from Boschaert's possessive glance as he clutches his pallet and brushes in his 1630s "Self-Portrait" to today's "duckface" in the pub.

The exhibition opens on Oct. 8 in the Mauritshuis, home to one of the world's most important collections of Dutch Golden Age paintings, including Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring."

It runs until Jan. 3.