Self Portrait with Skull Cap Edouard Manet Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Edouard Manet's Self Portrait with Skull Cap illustrates the artist’s personal self-portrait highlighting interesting features through a use of darker shades.

Manet incorporated an impressionist style, a traditional approach for him as he is coined as the forefather of impressionism. The piece was painted in 1879 ands a significant amount of history to the era and Manet's work. The painting is only one of two self-portraits Manet had painted through his career. The piece is significant as it illustrates how Manet witnessed himself compared to his other pieces of friends and family. The skullcap Manet wears is similar to another two prominent pieces painted prior to Manet’s time. Famous artist, Filipino Lippi, the fifteenth-century Florentine artist, wears a cap in his self-portrait. This piece is said to be the inspiration behind Manet’s self-portrait upon visiting the piece in Italy.

As well, prominent artist Titian wore a skullcap in his self-portrait, generating the question behind the amazement behind covering the top of the heading during the era. Many art critics argue that the use of Manet’s skullcap in his self-portrait suggests, “our minds are too similar now” to the other arts. It is believed that Manet found himself as a prominent artist during the time, and painted the cap on his head to showcase his similar ideology to the previous great artists before his time. This small cap encourages sense identification between the artists, encouraging Manet to feel a sense of accomplishment in his work.

Manet’s Self Portrait with Skull Cap, is a painting of himself clothed in a dark nude jacket, accompanied by dark grey dress pants. Manet’s jacket is classically collared, with an additional dress shirt under showcasing a glimpse of white. Manet had painted his classic blonde beard, adding a glimpse of seriousness to his face. Shades of pink are used to accentuate Manet’s face through his nose, rosy cheeks and ears. His eyes are painted closely together, illuminated a sharp stare directly back at the viewer. His hair flows gently to the left side, while the brown skullcap hides the rest.

The background of the painting begins with a brown near the bottom and darkens up to a black as it moves away. The allure behind the painting showcases a dark gloomy feeling, up raising the question for the viewers regarding why the colour scheme is incredibly dark. The body structure of Manet throughout the piece suggests a powerful form as he looks straight ahead. Alongside, the piece illustrates that Manet favours dark colours while conceiving the self-portrait, adding more depth and emotion to the piece.