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Paul Cezanne, Self Portrait

Key facts
Full title Self Portrait
Artist Paul Cezanne
Artist dates 1839 - 1906
Date made about 1880-1
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 34.7 × 27 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, Courtauld Fund, 1925
Inventory number NG4135
Location Room 44
Collection Main Collection
Self Portrait
Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne was about 40 years old when he painted this self portrait in Paris around 1880–1. He was now middle-aged with a family to support, and the intensity of his earlier self portraits has here given way to a more distant and reflective presence. Although relatively small, the portrait has a monumentality and authority to it. This was a significant period in the artist’s life, as he had stopped exhibiting with the Impressionist group after 1879 and was spending more time in the south of France, away from the capital.

Cezanne stares at us calmly and dispassionately, his face devoid of overt expression. The wallpaper he poses before is not merely a decorative backdrop, but has an important structural role in the composition. By using elements of its pattern throughout the picture, Cezanne has fully integrated himself with his surroundings. Despite the portrait’s simple format, he has created a composition full of subtle echoes and repetitions.

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