Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906)

Portrait de l’artiste regardant par-dessus son épaule

Portrait of the Artist Looking Over His Shoulder
    Oil on canvas
25 × 25 cm

Jos Hessel, Paris

Sacha Guitry, Paris

Galerie André Weil, Paris

Private collection, since 1957


Paris, Galerie Pigalle, Cézanne, December 1929, no. 17, ill.

Paris, Collection Sacha Guitry, Exposition faite au bénéfice des œuvres charitables de la Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques, 1952

New York, Wildenstein & Co., Cézanne, 5 November - 5 December 1959, no. 28

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections (Summer Loan Exhibition), 1962, no. 7

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Paul Cézanne, Peintures, Aquarelles, Dessins, June - September 1983, no. 19

Lausanne, Fondation de l’Hermitage, De Cézanne à Picasso dans les collections romandes, 15 June - 20 October 1985, no. 1, p. 137, ill.

Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Classics of Modern Art, 27 June - 19 September 1999, pp. 46-49, ill. p. 47

Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Cézanne and Modernism, 10 October 1999 - 9 January 2000, ill. p. 7


Cezanne, album printed in 100 copies including a lithograph of this work by Édouard Vuillard, Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, January 1914

Gustave Coquiot, Paul Cézanne, Paris, 1919, no. 19, ill. p. 240

Joachim Gasquet, “Aus dem Leben Cézannes”, Kunst und Künstler, 1929, p. 276, ill.

Georges Charensol, “Cézanne à la Galerie Pigalle”, Art Vivant, vol. 6, no. 124, 15 February 1930, p. 183, ill.

Joachim Gasquet, Cézanne, Cassirer, Berlin, 1930, frontispiece

Eugenio d’Ors, Paul Cézanne, Chroniques du Jour, Paris, 1930, pl. 3

Fritz Neugass, Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, December 1931, p. 140, ill.

Lionello Venturi, Cézanne, Son Art - Son Œuvre, Paul Rosenberg, Paris, 1936, no. 517

Sacha Guitry,18, Avenue Élisée-Reclus, Paris, 1952, p. 111, ill.

Theodore Reff, “A New Exhibition of Cézanne“, Burlington Magazine, March 1960, no. 684, p. 118

Pascal Bonafoux, Les Impressionnistes: Portraits et Confidences, Geneva, 1986, p. 159, ill.

John Rewald, Walter Feilchenfeldt and Jayne Warman, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne. A Catalogue Raisonné, London and New York, 1996, no. 535

Current location
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Floor 1st
Tour Guide Code
Audio Guide

Whether it is about portraits or landscapes, Paul Cézanne seems to approach his subject in the same way, with rare simplicity and subjectivity; qualities that will make him known as one of the precursors of modern art, that Picasso will characterize as the “Teacher of us all”.

Self-portrayal holds a special place in Cézanne’s choices of subject. The claim that he confined himself to this exercise due to reticence, lack of sociability, and even inability to find other models, seems exaggerated. Opting for self-portrayal cannot be so frivolous. It demands and imposes an introspection that obviously reflects the way the creator perceives himself, not only physically and psychologically, but also artistically. It has been written that the master “painted faces as if they were apples, without flattering them at all”, which is absolutely true for his own self-portraits as well, and that “if there was ever a painter who attempted to get out of their hiding place, behind a person’s eyes, his excellent or moderate thoughts, he would have been none other than Cézanne”.

The Portrait of the artist looking over his shoulder is undoubtedly impressive. Painted on a small surface, it focuses on the face, which is in fact rendered to its true size and literally dominates the composition. Nothing interferes with this man’s direct relationship, despite his awkward pose, to the viewer standing before him. Cézanne avoids presenting herself as a painter at work with the palette in hand. He describes himself as he is, with no apparent adornment, no ornament. In this way, with the skilled processing of the shades he uses, he emphasizes the reddish tinge of the nose, cheek and ear, the greyish temples and beard, the already advanced baldness.

The viewer is astonished when he finds that the range of colours composing the work, which at first glance seems extremely limited, actually turns out to be unexpectedly rich. The painter has adjusted the light that illuminates his forehead with a rare accuracy. The strokes consisting the flesh are so subtle that they become invisible. On the other hand, the jacket and the beard are worked in a more classic way for the artist, with wider and layered strokes. The outlines are painted with a skilful hand and allow the model to detach itself from the one-colour background, whose neutrality emphasizes even more the power of the look.

The designation of this self-portrait as a masterpiece is justified by the pencil copy made by Alberto Giacometti in 1937, expressing this way his admiration for his predecessor’s unique ability in drawing.



Paul Cézanne
(1839 - 1906)
First Name
Last Name
Aix-en-Provence, France, 1839
Aix-en-Provence, France, 1906