Patrick Mcallister

Near the end of his life Paul Cézannewrote, “I am dying without any pupils…there is no one to carry on my work” (Verdi 2012, 206). Despite not studying under Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, the artist credited with the founding of Cubism, said of Cézanne, “he was like our father” (ibid). Paul Cézannewas a pioneer, being the first to experiment with the portrayal of multiple viewpoints on a single tableau. Although not a Cubist, Cézanne’squasi-Cubist approach is evident not only in his still lives and landscapes, but also in his portrait work, such as Self Portrait with a Beret (1898-99, Museum of Fine Arts Boston) (Fig. 1). In his work, Picasso pays homage to Cézanne. Picasso’s Portrait of a Woman (1910, Museum of Fine Arts Boston)  (Fig. 2) is a Cubist work that validates this assertion.

Cézanne’s Self Portrait with a Beret is a self-portrait of the artist in three-quarters view. The artist’s head and clothed torso are depicted. Upon the head of the figure a beret is painted. Cézannerendered the beret and jacket donned by the figure with a thin application of brown, grey, and black paints. The jacket is seemingly unfinished and the paint is washy in the bottom portion of the painting. To the figure’s left is a red patch of color, most likely a depiction of an armchair. There are no distinct forms in the background, which is painted in muted greys, blues, and browns. The paint was applied with the passage technique. The term passage refers to a brush stroke wherein one applies paint in small block-shaped strokes varying in color or value. Cézannecharacteristically applied paint in this manner (Baumann 2000, 115). The variation in color from one block to the next gives volume to forms depicted in the painting. The color variations function in the background, which appears to be empty space, by delineating an atmosphere. Both the background and the clothing are rendered with these...


Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3.
Figure 4. Figure 5. Figure 6.
Paul Cézanne, Self Portrait with a Beret