Self Portrait, Paul Cézanne (c.1880)

Self-Portrait - Paul Cezanne - c.1880

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Artwork Information

TitleSelf-Portrait
ArtistPaul Cezanne
Datec.1880
MediumOil on Canvas
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Location Created France
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About Self-Portrait

This three-quarter view portrait represents the painter in his early forties.  Delving into the visual attributes of the artwork, it depicts Paul Cezanne’s visage caught in a moment of solemn introspection. The figure is presented with a bold directness that is characteristic of Cezanne’s portraits, capturing the viewer’s attention with his penetrating gaze. The composition of the portrait exhibits a unique blend of realism and abstraction — the face and beard are rendered with thick, deliberate brushstrokes, providing a sense of texture and corporeality, while certain aspects, such as the hair and the background, are depicted with less detail, creating an interplay between defined and ambiguous spaces.

Self Portrait (c. 1880) – Analysis

Cezanne’s mastery of color variation is evident, with a palette that includes earthy tones against a more muted background. The play of light and shadow on the face accentuates the contours and gives depth to the artist’s features. The background, while sparse in detail, has geometric elements that add a structural balance to the composition. The brushwork is lively yet controlled, contributing to the overall dynamic yet introspective atmosphere of the self-portrait. In sum, this artwork is a profound expression of Cezanne’s identity and his innovative contributions to the narrative of art history, marking a pivotal moment in the transition from Impressionism to the various expressions of modern art that would follow.

Cézanne was committed to the long process of working on the painting. That work was based on the principles of unifying what he sees and what he feels and thinks about the model he is painting and the environment that surrounds him. In portraits, he begins to apply the technique he developed in landscape painting. The technique of the so-called constructive brushstrokes. This technique involves arranging patches of paint of similar size in parallel or diagonal directions, treating the figure and face of the portrayed person and the objects in his environment in the same way.

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