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Self-portrait at 22, Oil by Albrecht Durer
Portrait of the Artist Holding a Thistle (or Eryngium) is an oil painting on parchment pasted on canvas by German artist Albrecht Dürer, painted in 1493. It is the earliest of Dürer's painted self-portraits and has been identified as one of the first self-portraits painted by a Northern artist.[/br]
The date, and the plant in the artist's hand, seem to suggest that this is a betrothal portrait (Brautporträt). Dürer has in fact depicted himself in the act of offering a flowering spray identified by botanists as eryngium amethystinum: its German name is "Mannestreue", meaning conjugal fidelity. Resembling the thistle (from which the portrait's title), this umbelliferous plant is used in medicine, and is regarded as an aphrodisiac. It may also have religious significance; the same plant in outline form is inscribed in the gold ground of Dürer's painting Christ as the Man of Sorrows (1493–94).