Cézanne’s Self-Portrait with a Palette (1885-7)

Heather McPherson noted of this self-portrait by Cézanne that the artist's “gaze is foreshortened and distorted, so that one eye turns inward and the other gazes outward.” Having recognized how Cézanne conveys the dual perception of an artist, McPherson is sensitive to its appearance elsewhere, as for instance in the next image.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Cezanne, Self-Portrait with a Palette (1885-87) Oil on canvas. E. G. Bührle Collection, Zurich.

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She said the same about this portrait painted a few years earlier, that the artist looks both outward and inward at the same time.1 It is probable, though she did not mention it, that Cézanne changed the light under the eyes to do this. While the shading under the right one looks slightly darker than it should, the light under the left is far too bright to be natural. Even if it is natural, the mis-match is strengthened further by making the black of the left pupil spread into the corner of the eye, obliterating the white, and making the eye that looks inwards even blacker.

Take a look at how Cézanne used a similar method in a self-portrait drawing as well.

Captions for image(s) above:

Cezanne, Self-Portrait (1879-82)

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1. McPherson, The Modern Portrait in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge University Press) 2001, p. 137


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