We find the artist hard at work within this composition. His finger sneaks through a hole in his palette whilst he stares at the canvas in front of him. We instantly wonder, what painting might he be working on? Art has traditionally included portrait subjects with evidence of their occupation, with artist posing with brushes or behind canvases such as this. We can learn a lot from this painting, such as the manner in which the artist worked, with his thick coat protecting him from stray paint, as well as as his serious expression as he carefully applies paint. It must also have been cold at times where he lived at the time, in order to warrant quite as many layers as this and he would capture wintery France at times within his career. He appears to be standing, too, and works indoors within a fairly simple room which he has converted into a studio of sorts. This is not an artist living a celebrity lifestyle, but rather working away with passion for his craft.
The painting itself is believed to be owned by the E.G. Bührle Foundation in Zürich, Switzerland. It measures 92cm in height, and 73cm in width. A number of items from Cezanne's career have been snapped up by investors and some of these will rarely be seen in public today. Thankfully, the artist was highly prolific and so many more can be found in public collections, allowing us all to access them fairly easily. The international fame of Cezanne has also allowed these items to be dispersed fairly widely, into the US, Japan and many other European nations. Switzerland hosts several art foundations and funds which now own artworks such as this, with 19th and early 20th century French art being particularly highly regarded as seen as a good long term investment.
Cezanne completed many self portraits across his career, as well as using other subjects as well. He seemed particularly interested in local people, from wherever he was living at the time. Self Portrait with Pink Background and Self Portrait with Olive-Coloured Wallpaper are two of the more famous contributions to that genre and we can see him ageing fairly prematurely across the fuller body of work when considering his age in each one. He would bald early and this always has a considerable impact on the appearance of a man as he approaches and passes through middle age. There may also have been issues with his lifestyle that led to some of this, and his life has now been studied fairly extensively in order to understand the man himself as best as possible.