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Self portraits provide an invaluable eye into the mind of any artist, whatever the era, and this work from Theodore Gericault as a young man arrived in around 1820.
The items that join the artist in this portrait suggest at relatively humble beginnings, with very simple furniture dotted around a roughly decorated room. In practice, it may just have been a studio in which he worked rathern than a liveable room in his house. No artist at this time would be able to concentrate on their artistic career without at least a little backing of financial support.
A small easel hangs in the background, suggesting that this is indeed his studio. At this young age, perhaps the artist did not have the funds for a more luxurious venue to produce his work. By the end of his career Gericault was in a much stronger position to negotiate handsome rewards for large commissioned pieces and also could enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle in general.
The artist chooses to sit himself on a simple chair that suits the environment of the room and allows light into the piece, but under a controlled setting. Perhaps it was a small lamp rather than a window, as there is not a wealth of light around the picture. In that sense, it adds to this feeling of a dark, damp atmosphere where he was lingering in the early years of his career.