Self portrait. 1848
64.1 х 54 Oil on canvas Tretyakov Gallery, Hall 9

Human personality is interesting for the artist of the Romantic period by its diversity, the unpredictability of its inner life. The consequence of such interest was development of self-portraiture. K.P. Bryullov painted Self-Portrait in one session immediately after a serious illness, which is why one of the key themes of romanticism manifested so naturally in it - the struggle between an impotent body and a powerful spirit. The colour is extremely dematerialised, the black and red dominance emphasises the pallor of the face full of internal burning, and his hair resemble tongues of flame. The artist’s powerlessly lowered hand and emaciated appearance deliberately contradict the vigorous painting style of the canvas. The semicircular top of the frame, the artist’s black blouse, his haircut and a Van Dyke beard, his hand’s position remind us of the Old Masters (contemporaries called the painter the “Russian Van Dyck”). Bryullov depicts himself both as having lost his illusion of being a "son of the age" and as the "elect of the gods". Critics wrote about K.P. Bryullov's Self-Portrait: “His whole nature is in front of you; the painting expresses at once various facets of his soul, which unfolded in front of the artist’s observing mind not during one but multiple different encounters; thus, the more you scrutinise Bryullov’s portrait, the more you discover all-round truth and depth in it. "

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