Musée d'Orsay: Félix Vallotton Self-portrait

Félix Vallotton

Félix Vallotton (1865-1925)
Oil on cardboard
H. 59,2; W. 48 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Autoportrait [Self-portrait]

Of the eight known self-portraits by Vallotton, this is certainly the most optimistic and peaceful. The work dates from 1897, when the artist was aged thirty two and life was starting to treat him well. He was quite successful in his work and he had met Gabrielle (1863-1932), his future wife who was none other than the daughter of the great art dealer Alexandre Bernheim. This charming, erudite young widow, so full of life, surrounded Vallotton with affection, and introduced him to the artistic and literary elite of the time.
Maybe this is the reason why he changed his usual detachable collar for a more relaxed navy blue jumper, and why, far from the image of the serious, shy young man in the 1885 self-portrait (Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-arts), he henceforth shows himself as a confident artist, full of determination.
Vallotton's self-portraits are characterised by a keen realism, fine graphic precision and a very sober composition. Here as always, it is his eyes, his scrutinising look, which expresses the psychological depth of this work. The artist paints himself with great objectivity.

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