Peter Parler’s Self-Portrait (c.1370-79)

Peter Parler was a master mason and architect whose sculpted self-portrait adorns a wall of St. Vitus' Cathedral in Prague, his most important accomplishment. As an architect with few works to his name other than his buildings, he would not be a normal candidate for inclusion on this site. He was nevertheless a mason, first and foremost, and is said to have sculpted not only this self-portrait but other busts too.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Peter Parler, Self-Portrait (c.1370-79) St. Vitus' Cathedral, Prague

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Georgia Somers Wright has noted that Parler's likeness is based on that of Emperor Charles IV (near left) but without the smile.1 Either his own likeness is based on the Emperor's or the earlier head of the Emperor was based on his own. It is one of the initial similarities between artist and king that became a major, but still little-known, tradition in Western art. 

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Captions for image(s) above:

Left: Peter Parler, Self-Portrait
Right: Head of Emperor Charles IV from St. Vitus' Cathedral

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From Fouquet's painted portrait of Charles VII in 1450 through the many portraits of Napoleon by diverse artists in the early nineteenth century to Lucian Freud's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in the twenty-first, artists have painted rulers in their own likeness as a symbol of their own majesty in art.

More Works by Parler


1. Georgia Sommers Wright, “The Reinvention of the Portrait Likeness in the Fourteenth Century”, Gesta 39, No. 2, Robert Branner and the Gothic (2000), p. 126

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 15 Oct 2011. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.