History of Self-portrait: From Narcissus Teenager to Self-portrait Girl

Narcissus daffodil teenager.

Trigaud, a French court painter, works "Full-length portrait of Louis XIV in coronation suit at the age of 63".

Selected Pictures of Yongzheng Carpe diem.

Self-portrait of the famous painter Leonardo da Vinci.

Japanese astronaut Akihiko Shingo takes a selfie in space.

  As early as ancient Greece, the Oracle of "Know Yourself" was engraved on the lintel of Apollo Temple. This is an inevitable question in everyone’s life: who am I? Who am I? Is this what others think of me as? … … Self-focusing "selfie" is what we think of as proof of our interaction with others.

  Self-portrait is popular in the internet age, but "self-portrait" is not the product of the internet age. People have always been enthusiastic about themselves, but in the past, they were limited by technical conditions, and the privilege of seeing their own visual images belonged to only a few people. After the Renaissance, painters with technical advantages picked up brushes and combined self-portrait with art. With the advent of photography, it is possible for ordinary people to record themselves. After that, the rapid development of digital cameras and high-definition mobile phones, as well as the fuel of Internet information sharing, ushered in a big explosion of self-portraits, machine imaging.

  Privilege of nobility — — Portrait of the emperor

  Narcissus is a beautiful boy in Greek myths and legends. When he was born, his parents received the proverbs from the prophet — — Don’t let him see his face clearly. However, at the age of sixteen, Narcissus caught a glimpse of his face when he passed a mirror-clear lake in the forest. The beautiful boy was addicted to the reflection in the water, and finally fell into the bottom of the lake and turned into a daffodil on the shore.

  The inverted image of daffodil teenagers is a metaphor of human self-cognition. Humans observe four situations and exchange information with others to understand and define the world around them; At the same time, human beings also examine their own external presentation, show it to others in various ways, and define themselves through feedback from others. Just as Charles Horton Cooley, an American sociologist, expounded the "Byakki Smoker" theory in "Human Nature and Social Order" in 1902: "We understand ourselves by imagining how others feel about our behavior and appearance" — — And this may be the endogenous force for the long-lasting self-portrait.

  Self-gaze was born at the beginning of human cognition. A primitive man who came home from hunting with a full load may be to show his strength, or to record the moment of victory. In short, he will draw murals of his hunting with colored soil by the light of the bonfire in the cave. These primitive murals can be regarded as the earliest self-portraits of human beings. Therefore, selfie has a long history. In the years when human beings have not mastered photography technology, portrait is the original form of selfie.

  Before the 16th century, only the aristocrats could hire painters to see their own visual images. Although the portrait is not written by myself, they pay the painter, so it is their preference, not the painter’s, that determines the direction of the painting. The portraits of emperors in the era of centralization are not only for recording, but also for showing the authority of emperors. King Louis XIV of France claimed to be the king of the sun. In one of his widely circulated portraits, Louis XIV wore a golden laurel and portrayed himself as Apollo. Queen Elizabeth I left hundreds of portraits, but most of them looked like the same one — — Almost fair skin and unsmiling expression — — The real Elizabeth had smallpox, her face was full of potholes, and her mouth was rotten because she ate too much sugar. Compared with real people, portraits are obviously beautified.

  The portrait with the most selfie style comes from Yongzheng, a fan of "Let’s have fun". The "map of pleasure", which began in Nanqi, usually depicts the royal entertainment life. Back to Yong Zhengdi, he was the absolute master of his "map of pleasure". Yongzheng’s "map of pleasure and pleasure" is not only a display of external imperial power, but also related to the inner side of "poetry and distance" Long before he ascended the throne, a silk painting called "Plough and Weaving in Yin Zhen" revealed this clue. In the picture scroll, Yongzheng dressed himself as a farmer who stood on the ridge with an umbrella and led the people to harvest. In the later "Atlas of Joy and Joy in Yongzheng" (collected in the Palace Museum), Yongzheng wore a western wig and European clothes to hunt and stab tigers, or pretended to be a fisherman who fished alone in the cold river, or shot a bow barefoot, or sat quietly in meditation at sunset, or recited songs in ancient Panasonic &hellip. … It’s quite a bit like online celebrity bloggers "posing" today.

  The convenience of artists — — self-portrait

  It is difficult for ordinary people to see their portraits, and nobles realize their portraits with the help of painters’ skills. What about the painters themselves who have fantastic brushes? In 1656, the Spanish painter Diego Velá zquez indirectly expressed the advantages of the painter with his masterpiece Gong E. When painting the little princess, Velá zquez skillfully incorporated the scenes he painted into the picture. In the frame, Velazquez stands in front of the frame with a brush in his hand, which makes it difficult for the viewer’s eyes not to bounce back on him when they touch the frame. This is an artist’s visual game and a painter’s privilege.

  Few painters can refuse the privilege of self-portrait, just as it is difficult for people today to refuse the selfie camera of mobile phone. At one time, few people paid attention to the painter’s self-portrait. Occasionally, a painter secretly drew one for himself, and he could only admire himself. However, since the Renaissance, art has gradually been respected by people, and even the portrait art of painters has stood in the spotlight. The self-portrait that best represents the Renaissance spirit comes from the master Leonardo da Vinci. In his self-portrait of his later years, his tight lips, deep eyes and smooth beard depict an old, wise and rational human image. The most prolific self-portrait creator is the Dutch painter Rembrandt. From the age of 14 to 63, Rembrandt left more than 100 self-portrait works, spanning his fanatical youth, proud middle-aged and lonely old age; Rembrandt’s skin in the painting ranges from compact luster to wrinkled face, and his clothes range from fine clothes to coarse rags. What remains unchanged is his persistent pursuit of art, which can almost become a personal portrait epic. The most straightforward self-portrait comes from the painter Van Gogh, who painted a self-portrait with his ears cut off at the stage of his artistic madness, expressing the painter’s strong self-awareness.

  Victor lebrun is a famous French neoclassical painter. In 1779, he was invited to the Palace of Versailles to paint a portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette. Different from the traditional royal portrait, the queen in her works is more like an ordinary aristocratic girl, dressed comfortably and casually. But her most realistic figure painting is the self-portrait of her and her daughter together. The female painter looks directly at the viewer and holds her daughter in her arms. Her expression is kind, natural, warm and moving, just like today’s parent-child photo. Lebrun painted a number of self-portraits, in which she embraced her daughter, taught students and painted in the studio, just like a female autobiography under the changing times.

  The Light of Photography — — Real selfies are possible.

  In 1826, in Burgundy, after eight hours of exposure waiting, Joseph Nicephore Nieps finally succeeded in developing the scenery outside his attic window on a lead-tin alloy plate, giving birth to the first photo in human history. Nieps has been studying this kind of instantaneous image condensation for more than twenty years. He named this photography technique "sunlight etching" and refused to make it public. So the inventor of human photography was named after his partner Louis Daguerre. On the basis of Nieps’s invention, Daguerre changed to mercury vapor to enhance the image appearance and delicacy of exposed copper plate, and shortened the exposure time from 8 hours to 30 minutes. Shortly after Nieps’s death, at the meeting of French Academy of Sciences and Academy of Arts in August 1839, "Daguerre’s silver photography" was officially made public, and the light of photography shone into the public.

  The English word "photography" in photography consists of Greek words "phos" and "graphos", meaning "light" and "writing" respectively. As the name implies, "photograph" means to replace the human brush and record the moment as eternity with light. The invention of photography amazed people and changed the way people watched the world. The most typical example is a photo of the earth called "Blue Marbles" taken by astronaut Jack Schmidt on the Apollo spacecraft in 1972. This photo has opened a new perspective for all mankind to observe the world, and for the first time, from the perspective of "God", we can see the whole picture of the planet where we live and marvel at its roundness, tranquility and perfection.

  Almost at the same time when photography was born, people not only watched and photographed external images enthusiastically with cameras, but also tried to be in front of the camera to satisfy their curiosity about themselves — — Self-portrait was born almost at the same time with the invention of photography. The first batch of self-portrait attempts were artists transferred from painters, such as French photographer Hippo Park Jung Su Baier. Speaking of which, he was a competitor of Daguerre. As early as May 1839, he submitted the exposure method of "direct positive film technology" to the French Academy of Sciences, but in the end, Daguerre’s publicity was robbed by mistake. Baier created a selfie titled "Self-portrait of the Drowning Man" to protest. In the photo, he lay naked on the water side and played a drowning man. His eyes were closed and his hands were black. At one time, the public thought that he had really passed away. Thus, although Baier missed the title of the first inventor of photography, he went down in history as the first selfie taker.

  Camera evolution — — Self-timer from difficult to easy.

  It’s too difficult. Almost all early photographers who have taken selfies will have such complaints. Daguerre’s photographic equipment weighs 50 kilograms, and the exposure time of 30 minutes means that the selfie taker has to stay still in front of the camera for more than half an hour. No wonder Baier chose "suspended animation" for his selfie, and it is much easier to close his eyes and take a nap for an hour. By contrast, in 1865, when Gannard, a French photographer, journalist and novelist, took a selfie in the mirror and sent it to a friend, he couldn’t help but write down the hardships behind the photo: "I looked in the mirror and took this photo. My hands are shaking, it’s too difficult to shoot. " The earliest personal selfie in China came from the first selfie of my family in a hundred years, which was created by Ms. Sun Sui Xin Ci, a visual education scholar, in 1901. The birth of this selfie was also a big struggle. In order to assist in shooting, Ms. Sun Sui Xin Ci made her own equipment, and it took more than a day of trial and error to get a satisfactory one. Artists are still like this, and it is conceivable how difficult it is for ordinary people to get a selfie.

  Five years after the death of Daguerre, the father of photography, george eastman, an ordinary man, was born. Born in a poor family, he was fascinated by photography since childhood. After he got a job in a bank as an adult, he devoted his spare time and money to the research of camera dry photography. At the age of 27, Hysmans invented the earliest film and founded his own camera dry printing company. At the age of 34, Hysmans Company produced the first "Box Brownie" camera, which cost only $1 (Daguerre’s photographic equipment cost 400 francs); At the age of 35, Hysmans’s company was renamed Hysmans Kodak Company, which became the famous Kodak Company. Kodak Company has brought snapshot technology to the general public. Small and cheap cameras have become the daily consumer goods of the public, and ordinary people’s selfies have also begun to emerge. When people come into contact with photography, they try to take selfies by observing their postures and expressions in the mirror. The invention of film made portraits and self-portraits generally replaced by cheap photographic paper, but the real change was the digital camera that had a devastating impact on Kodak.

  In 1988, at the Cologne Expo, a digital camera NDS-1P jointly developed by Fuji and Toshiba attracted people’s attention. This is the first digital camera in human history, and its appearance means that the new electronic imaging technology has replaced the traditional silver halide technology, the cornerstone of Kodak’s survival — — Film, a storage medium, has been digitally melted. It is not only storage, but also digital evolution from imaging to transmission and even image modification. It is a distant thing to take photos in the early days with a whole set of cumbersome and costly equipment. The arrival of the digital age is of epoch-making significance to the history of personal selfies. Digital cameras are too friendly for selfie lovers. — There will be no more wasted film, and it can be checked and deleted through the LCD screen behind the camera immediately after shooting, which is both economical and can protect privacy. The self-timer delay function frees the photographer in the process of self-timer, and the distress of leaving reflective white spots in the middle of the photo when taking a self-timer in the mirror is gone forever. In addition, the invention of wireless remote control and cable release has expanded the range of activities of selfie takers, and they can record themselves and their surroundings. Various auxiliary self-timer functions such as anti-shake function and portrait automatic beautification function have emerged one after another, and the sales of digital cameras specially designed for self-timer are hot … … With the development of photography technology, ordinary people can easily take pictures for themselves, and selfie has finally changed from the pastime of nobles and the privilege of artists to the daily life of ordinary people.

  Mobile phone era — — Self-timer anytime, anywhere

  In 1973, on the street of new york, martin cooper, an employee of Motorola Company, successfully talked with others with a machine box the size of two bricks. This was the first mobile phone in the world, and today people call it a mobile phone. At that time, martin cooper might not have imagined how earth-shaking changes would take place in this machine 50 years later: its main functions are far more than just talking, but also surfing the Internet, paying, playing games and, of course, taking selfies.

  Today, more than 90% of online selfies come from mobile devices. For most people, the multifunctional, light and easy-to-use mobile phone is enough to take pictures instead of digital cameras, not to mention the continuous improvement of mobile phone manufacturers in mobile phone cameras. The earliest mobile phone with camera function came from Sharp J-SH04, which was released in 2000. A 110,000-pixel CCD camera was built in the back of the machine, and a convex mirror, that is, a selfie mirror, was intimately prepared next to the camera to help users see and adjust their actions in the convex mirror when taking selfies. In 2005, the prevalence of 3G network made the factory mobile phones begin to be equipped with front-facing cameras. The front camera was originally used for video calling under 3G network, but it was soon discovered by merchants that people used it to take selfies far more often than video calling. Camera, once only an accessory function, has evolved into an important indicator of mobile phones because of the popularity of self-timer. With the continuous evolution of mobile phone cameras, millions of pixels of smart phones become standard, and the imaging quality even surpasses that of ordinary cameras. Some mobile phones add a filter effect to the lens, making a "beauty mobile phone" which is the main selling point of selfie.

  The fission of network technology and the continuous upgrading of mobile phones in the 21st century have released people’s demand for taking selfies, which has made selfies grow rapidly, becoming a popular trend and even a mainstream cultural phenomenon. In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary announced that the word of the year was "selfie", that is, in this year, 184 million selfies of social network users were spontaneously uploaded to the network. In 2014, Apple’s mobile phone was equipped with a front camera with excellent performance, which can automatically focus and fill the light in front. In this year, Time magazine in the United States called the selfie stick "one of the top 25 inventions in the world". Various beauty-shooting softwares emerge one after another, which help selfie users to skin and conceal blemishes, whiten and brighten photos, and even enlarge eyes or simulate makeup, and the operation is equally simple: choose filter lens — Taking pictures — Beautify photos — One-click upload Self-timer is like a script, which interprets the self-timer’s heart and state. When ordinary people can always adjust, pose the most beautiful posture, and even use software to modify and interpret different styles, they become artists of their own images. Every selfie is a performance that the photographer wants his image to be presented to others.

  Just as primitive people drew their rough outlines in caves and waited for their peers to admire them, feudal emperors instructed painters to paint portraits and frightened the world, and artists picked up brushes to show their artistic pursuits and spiritual world, ordinary people picked up their mobile phones to create and upload selfies, waiting for others to interpret and give feedback.

  Extended reading

  Space selfie and the era of reading pictures

  In 2012, a space selfie of Japanese astronaut Akihiko Shingo showed his selfie in a spacesuit. Although his face is completely obscured by his helmet and the picture has no caption, the reflection of the International Space Station on the astronaut’s helmet mask and the earth below the space station are enough to convey rich information — — This selfie is the best embodiment of promoting information exchange into the era of picture reading in the network era.

  Visual images are much richer than the information transmitted by words. In other words, countless selfies in the online world are also new ways of information transmission and socialization. Today, our image exists not only in the real world, but also in the online world.