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Self-portrait with skeleton

Painting, 1896, 66×86 cm

Description of the artwork «Self-portrait with skeleton»

The artist Corinth made it a rule to celebrate every birthday by writing a self-portrait. So keep a lot of them: mere canvases about thirty, not counting watercolors and charcoal drawings. Most of them deserve attention. Having excellent sense of humor, enough irony and not caring for their appearance much reverence, the artist every time it appears in a new way – often comical and sometimes merciless to himself.

The Many Faces Of Corinth


We see him dressed in armorand with a glass of red champagne in one hand and right breast of his wife in the other. Thirty dandy with the dapper handlebar mustache and decrepit, disfigured by disease old man. And one of the most discreet self-portraits of Corinth was released in Germany in the form of postage stamps on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of the artist.

"Self-portrait with skeleton" one of the most famous, we can say that the iconic images of the artist. Corinth captured a Munich Studio in company with the anatomical exhibit for medical students. Then, as though he purposely does not hide, and sticks out its drawbacks: a disadvantage of the face, emphasizing the double chin, deep receding hairline and comical pre-loaded chin – not repel, but, on the contrary, at first sight makes you feel sympathy for awkward-looking artist.

In the upper right corner in the frame of a foolish monograms you can see the signature of the author and his age at the time: 38 years. In fact, as indicated by the date of creation of paintings – the letter "a." – an abbreviation for the Latin word anno ("year"), some researchers are inclined to see a reference to self-portrait of Durer 1500, signed a similar manner.

Dancing with death


"Self-portrait with skeleton" written by Corinth as a response, or even mocking a well-known painting is deeply revered at the time in Germany, Swiss artist Arnold Bocklin. It "Self-portrait with death playing the violin" in its extreme seriousness – the complete opposite of stressed of everyday scenes from the canvas of Corinth.

If .. .. blows away the dust from the popular medieval story of "Dance of death" to once again remind you that bony is everyone literally on the soul (but also often plays the role of Muse for artists), the skeleton of Corinth – a learning model without any sinister or otherworldly context. He limply suspended by an iron hook, like butchered beef carcass in butcher shop.

"Yes, man is mortal, if the artist agrees. – But we all decay in the ground, leaving only the naked bones of the skull". To Corinth death at this stage of life – only natural and inevitable result, devoid of any mystical, supernatural or dramatic symbolism.

This statement emphasizes and enhances the atmosphere once everyday Bavarian day. Through the open picture window of the Studio bursts into fresh air. Outside green trees, towering domes of ancient cathedrals of Munich and Smoking factory chimneys. Stressed like ordinary dress of Corinth – unremarkable plaid shirt and a boring tie.

Jokingly and seriously


Really profound here only one view of the artist. And that's Corinth: for any of his ridicule is always hiding something more. Too much violent energy raged within his restless soul, so he could remain a mere comedian-Mockingbird.

"Lovis Corinth – the artist-an expressionist in every sense of the term. This is an artist who violate any measure, introducing in painting the violence and brutality, sex, pain. Death is always present in his paintings– comments of the work of Serge Lemoine, Professor of history of contemporary art at the Sorbonne and long-term Director of the musée d'orsay on the eve of one of the exhibitions of German provocateur in France. – It's the artist, excessive in all things. In particular, in how he constantly portrays himself as he fakes the most incredible situations with their own participation."

This heavy gaze of Corinth with the "self-Portrait with skeleton" – a sort of a harbinger, if not a threat, that in 1896, the wider public had yet total immersion into the inner world of the artist – a paradoxical fusion of passion, pain and love of life.

Author: Natalia Azarenka
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1896

Size: 66×86 cm

Artwork in selections: 4 selections

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