Self-Portrait Before the Easel

size(cm): 42x28 Original size
Sale price£110 GBP


Self-portrait painted in the early 1790s, Goya is working on a large canvas, probably a portrait, with his eyes averted towards the subject. Bright sunlight streams in through a window behind the painter, who wears a curious hat with chandeliers on the brim. Without a doubt, it was as a portrait painter that Goya gained fame. I used to paint portraits in one sitting and these were the most realistic.

Goya is deliberately presented here as vulnerable and fragile, revealing the most serene and welcoming facet of his personality. A dark background painted with brisk, rapid cross-brush strokes gives presence to his reddish-brown frock coat, which contrasts with his very white open-collared shirt, both painted with brush strokes finer than the background. This technique, in the Venetian manner, accentuates Goya's soft, rosy, somewhat sagging skin on the threshold of old age. The elaborate material, of exceptional richness, highlights the luminosity of his face, which needs very little light to stand out in the almost Velazquez-like “atmosphere” that surrounds it. This self-portrait is very different from that of the artist at his easel. Here he no longer looks at himself in a mirror, but directs his gaze at the viewer. It is signed and dated on the bottom left, incised in the painting, perhaps with the tip of the brush handle.

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