Cézanne’s Self-Portrait Drawing (c.1878-80)

Here’s an example of how a simple drawing, done in pencil, contains meaning whether or not  the image is a “photographic” record of the artist’s face. Heather McPherson wrote of this self-portrait by Cézanne that “the deeply shadowed right eye turns inward while the left eye gazes outward.”1 She is right, though perhaps unaware of how pervasive this tradition is in art. The principle that one eye is open for exterior perception while the other is closed for poetic insight has many variations, as here. All Cézanne had to do was to shade one eye more than the other to let a sensitive observer like McPherson feel his meaning.

Take a look at how Cézanne conveyed the same idea in two painted self-portraits.

Captions for image(s) above:

Cézanne, Self-Portrait (c. 1878-80) Art Institute of Chicago

Click image to enlarge.


1. McPherson, The Modern Portrait in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge University Press) 2001, p. 134

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