The item can now be found at the Musée d’Orsay, París who list the piece as being sized at 66cm by 55cm. The portrait itself features a balding artist looking directly at us with a serious, intense expression. His large beard hangs over a red shirt, with a thick overcoat worn on top. The composition captures him from just above the waist up and the majority of his self portraits from across Cezanne's career would either follow this layout or work from the shoulder up. There is a patchwork of bricks behind the artist, suggesting that he might have posed within a kitchen or outbuilding. He allows light to come in from our left hand side which decorates one side of his face but leaves the other much darker by contrast. The whole atmosphere of this piece is of a troubled, deeply thought painter who was continuing to develop his craft despite the typical barriers and frustrations experienced by most creative artists.
Portrait de l'artiste au fond rose, to give it it's original French title, was donated to this important French gallery in the year 2000 by Philippe Meyer. It makes up a key addition to their selection of this artist's career which is fairly considerable. They also have other self portraits from his hand which gives an excellent opportunity to visually see how the artist aged over time, as well as to compare his changing mood over this extended period. Since its completion in 1875, Self Portrait with Pink Background has changed hands a number of times and passed through a series of French private collections until finally arriving at the Musée d’Orsay at the start of this century. Many of these great galleries across the world rely on generous donations such as this, which normally come from collectors who have benefitted from and appreciated their displays during their own lifetimes.
Breakfast Table, Five Bathers, Portrait of the Artist plus also The Blue Vase can all be found at this gallery, along with a good number of other artworks which numbers almost 60 in total. Few institutions can boast quite an array as that, and the quality and significance of the particular pieces is also highly impressive. Many of his paintings have since made their way to the US or elsewhere in Europe, including a number of private collections and so it is pleasing to find so many still viewable to the French public. In terms of other self portraits, some of the most famous from his career included the likes of Self-portrait in front of olive wallpaper, Self Portrait with Palette and also Self Portrait - Artist Looking Over his Shoulder. There were dozens of examples of this genre from his career which has allowed us to map out his visual appearance over the decades, which has been aided by the brutal honesty with which he portrayed himself.