Art historians and cultural commentators were shocked today upon discovering that hundreds of portraits on display in London’s National Portrait Gallery are in fact ‘selfies’, a style of image previously believed to have come about in the last couple of years.
‘Selfie’ was made the Oxford English Dictionary‘s Word of the Year last month, beating out competition from ‘twerking’, ‘binge-watching’, and ‘yewtree’, but experts are starting to believe that the concept has been around for far longer.
“This turns our idea of art history on its head. Received wisdom on these self-portraits was that they were a form of deep introspection and a look inside the soul of the artist,” said art historian Francesca Krill. “Now we’re going to have to consider that the painters were probably just fishing for a compliment about their new haircut. The shallow, self-obsessed pricks.”
The vanity of painters is coming to light in ever more surprising ways with many of their works being signed in crude proto-hashtags, some only visible after thorough examination under X-ray light. Francis Bacon’s magnificent reflective triptych, once thought to explore different facets of his personality, is in hindsight probably a crude attempt to show off his shoe collection, while Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s classic 1641 portrait is now considered the first example of an artist trying to find their ‘best side’.
“It appears that narcissism is not a new phenomenon,” commented sociologist Aled Jackson. “We now know that, much like my teenage children, these artists who chose to paint themselves were incredibly shallow and materialistic. They spent all their time up in their room with their easels instead of cultivating real emotional connections with other humans. God knows what their parents thought of it all.”