The autoportrait. Why, or what's in it? Signature ,business, vanity or study?

Ghiberti, Jan Steen, Michelangelo, Rembrandt or Jan van Eyck. Thousands of artist did it and still do. creating the self-portrait. Jan van Eyck painting himself as a weddingguest to be seen in the mirror in The Arnolfini wedding, 1334. Vanity or just his signature? 

The painting to the right being a self-portrait of Jan van Eyck aswell, a signature, vanity or business? For centuries artist placed their self-portrait in their art, using it as their signature.

Using it as a signature becomig popular in the Renaissance as artist became more popular themself. Leaving the Middle Ages as artist were thought of being craftsman most of all. Creating the self-portrait just for fun, to sell or as a study. An other purpose being to use it in a painting as an inside joke. Or like Michelangelo sending a message in the Sixtine Chapel painting himself as st. Bartholomew.

Using it as a study offers a few advantages. One doesn.t has to look for a model, only a mirror being required. The model allways being available and being cheap aswell. The artist being able to study: typical signs, asymmetrical features, bone structure or the skin for example. Studying different techniques and different styles. Numerous practical reasons to get in front of the mirror.

A certain amount of vanity allways being present. Nobody gets in front of a mirror without being vane. Some more and some less. Is this really me? One more wrinkle, where does it come from? Am I still capable of making a self-portrait and will it be a good one? Why does my wife still like me? Or even worse: that's why she left me !

A self-portrait allways posesses vanity. Each and every artwork does. But if i can see this vanity in my work, what do other people see in it? Am I showing my inside to the spectator? And if so, how much? Looking at Rembrandt's self-portrait as an old man, what does one see? How much can one tell by looking at this masterpiece of psycho'logical self-portraits? Is this the reason for Lucian Freud being one of the best ?

Lucian Freud and Rembrandt both being masters. Both being absolutly famous during their lifetime and both being expensive. Masters of selling their art. Lucian Freud being famous and honost enough to refuse portrait the Queen for years. Rembrandt selling a self-portrait to a king. A self-portrait made by own hand. The Rembrandt Research Project proving that it wasn't.  

Rembrandt selling it as being made"of own hand" isn't dis'honost. Being made in his workshop by one of his students ment being his own. But in spite of that the King thinking and paying for a "made by own hand", must have been reason enough to make Rembrandt have a party.

Creating a self-portrait made by own hand, selling it to a king and having a party. Creating a self-portrait, looking at it. Wether good or bad. Both being reason enough to have a party.

Creating a self-portrait. reason enough to fool a king.