Why do artists paint so many self-portraits?

For starters, they’re always available, says Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. “In the middle of the night when the urge strikes, you’ve got yourself.”

Some artists can’t afford models, others are simply vain. Portrait Gallery curator Brandon Fortune thinks self-portraits let artists work out technical problems. And of course, there’s posterity: “They’re also done as a kind of self-reflection,” Fortune says. “To present a persona to the world that may not be true or authentic, but is the character the artist wants to be remembered as.” …Read More

Pictured: Edward Hopper’s 1903 charcoal self-portrait is one of more than 70 works on display in the Eye to I exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.