The Venus of Willendorf

Venus of Willendorf

c. 25,000 years ago (Upper Paleolithic)

Although this is usually thought to be a fertility goddes/figure, there is an interesting article suggesting that this figure and other prehistoric "Venus figures" are self-portraits made by women looking down at their own bodies. Read it here.

Bull-Leaping Fresco

Minoan, c. 1450-1400 BCE

Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting

Artemisia Gentilesci, c. 1639. Oil on canvas.

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Artemisia Gentileschi
Ecstacy of St Teresa

Cornaro Chapel, The Ecstacy of Saint Teresa

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Rome, 1647-52. Marble.

Made as part of the Counter-Reformation movement, this chapel features the Spanish mystic Teresa experiencing a vision from God. In her writing she says: "I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God."