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Self Portrait with a White Hat was painted in 1910, which was the latter part of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life as an artist
The oil on canvas work resides in a private collection.
The painting shows the artist himself in profile. He is wearing a light coloured hat, sporting a long white beard set on a dark green background. The painting is in the typical Renoir style, though critics think that in his later years, Renoir's style was more traditional drawing inspiration from Titian and Rubens.
Self Portrait with a White Hat was part of the Renoir In The 20th Century: A Master's Last Works' exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition in 2010. The exhibition displayed paintings and photographs from Renoir’s life an included photos of him as well as the self portraits that he did.
Though this painting is in Renoir’s recognisable style it also shows element of an evolution into his later style which saw him dissolve defined lines and return to thinly brushed paint strokes.
It was during this later stage of Renoir’s career that he said he was just learning how to paint now. He felt he had made progress in his attempts to not just create a likeness but also to embody the feeling and atmosphere of the subject.
Like his contemporaries such as Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne, Renoir made several studies of himself throughout his life. Renoir completed four self portraits (see also Self Portrait I, II & III), this being the last one. He did another one in the same year and another two in 1875 and 1876. Self portraits are often created as a test of the artist own abilities to capture a likeness.
This perhaps explains why Renoir completed two self portraits in 1910 when he was suffering badly from rheumatoid arthritis which caused his fingers to curl in on themselves making it difficult to hold a paintbrush the way he was used to.
The colours used in this painting are muted yet there is a bright light quality created by the strength of the white in contrast with the rest of the painting. Unlike most self portraits this cannot be a true reflection of what he saw unless he was using a photograph which is unlikely.
Most self-portraits at this time would show the artist looking out towards the viewer as he is usually looking in a mirror when making the study. This painting instead shows the artist looking straight ahead, and the viewer sees only his profile.
This furthers the idea that Renoir was moving out of the avant-garde impressionist style that he was known for and instead looking beyond what he could see. This suggests that he was aware of the cubist movement which was in its infancy at this time. However, despite the fact that this piece exhibits compositional similarities to less traditional styles it is still considered as an impressionist painting.