R274 – Portrait de l’artiste au fond rose, vers 1875 (FWN436)

Pavel Machotka

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Portrait de l’artiste au fond rose
vers 1875

During the period between his closeness to Pissarro and his adoption of the parallel touch (1872 – 1879), he painted only seventeen portraits while his narrative paintings, landscapes, and still lives each number in the fifties and sixties. The portraits are no less significant, however; there is a frankness of expression and an originality and audacity in their execution that make them take their place in western painting as firmly as paintings based purely in stylistic achievements. Choosing pink wallpaper for the background of a self-portrait, for example, is an audacious decision; it is normally the last thing one would think of, yet in Portrait de l’artiste au fond rose of about 1875 Cézanne brings it off as if it were perfectly natural. The exact shade of pink matters, of course; it cannot be the pink of baby clothes because it would be symbolic and precious ; a more solid color, with an admixture of browns and warm reds, is more appropriate. And it is not flesh color alone that Cézanne depends on; he gives it life, both in the face and in the background, by interlarding it with complementary grey-greens. The dull green serves to model the head as well, particularly where it is in shadow, and also at the top and near the hairline; the placement is abstract, and it works to indicate the bends in the surface simply by the complementary of the skin tone. Finally, he brings the warm pinks into the black of the coat. His overall color scheme then has deep flesh tones, pale highlights, greens, and a black, and retains a breathtaking simplicity and consistency. The composition itself is less a balanced arrangement of objects than a texture of squiggly shapes that unites the wallpaper with the details of the face and hair and with the outlines of the sleeves.

Source: Machotka, Cézanne: the Eye and the Mind.

A mettre en lien avec les portraits de Cezanne par Pissarro en 1874 :

Camille Pissarro
Portrait de Cézanne

Camille Pissarro
Portrait de Cezanne
Gravure sur cuivre

Couverture du journal Les hommes d’aujourd’hui, 1891


















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