When Rembrandt painted self-images of himself, it was considered radical in the art world. In Rembrandt's lessons for the selfie era… it notes that he left behind 80 renderings of his own image in the form of paintings, drawings and etchings.
This is a considerable amount of selfies for that point in time, as they were all hand-crafted.
What is more impressive is that by painting these selfies, society viewed him as someone of importance and success. To have your portrait painted up until that point in time meant that you were usually a wealthy aristocrat, and that you wanted people to notice you. Even if this wasn’t the truth, society didn’t think otherwise, and saw Rembrandt as someone noteworthy. His business choices unfortunately countered his artistic successes, as he ended up declaring bankruptcy.
“...the act of posting a selfie is more about identifying yourself than showing off your extreme hotness.”
Selfies aren’t for everyone though – especially when art is involved. Take for example the Italian Student that smashed a sculpture while taking a selfie AND the selfie-taker that smashed a priceless historic Italian statue of Hercules. In the process of trying to look funny and smart, one selfie-taker ended up creating an art disaster. It's usually not a good idea to hop into the lap of early 19th-century statue at the best of times - never mind doing so to snap the perfect selfie.
It’s great to create a story and intrigue around who you are - especially if it helps you sell your art or product. However, if you don’t want your selfie moment to end up winning a Darwin Award for asinine behaviour – keep your hands off the antiquities! Gallery security will thank you for that.