L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, October 15, 2021

In the summer of life, and in the winter - two self-portraits by Julius Paulsen.

Selvportræt med blød Hat (Self-portrait with soft hat), 1900.
Self-portrait, 1911.

Though only eleven years separate these two paintings - Paulsen turned forty in 1900 and fifty-one in 1911 - the contrast between them seems a contemplation, a comparison, maybe even intentional, of the hard vigor of full manhood and the faltering of old age. The direct, confident gaze of the first, full of intelligence and wit. The tension in the pose, the figure almost wanting to rise up from its low positioning, the crop of the composition. And the second, the pallor, the glare on the glasses reflecting, deflecting, and obscuring, is almost a caricature of feebleness; it's as if the artist is attempting to portray his own fears of aging. Paulsen painted many self-portraits, but these two almost appear to be paired, the way they communicate so strongly with each other.


Julius Paulsen (22 October 1860, Odense - 17 February 1940, Copenhagen), Danish painter, best known for his portraits, he was much influenced by Rembrandt and the art of the contemporary French salon. The son of a shopkeeper, after completing an apprenticeship as a house painter, he attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1879 to 1882. In 1885, he travelled to the Netherlands, France, and Belgium together with fellow artist Viggo Johansen, an active member of the Skagen Painters. Paulsen had strong connections with several members of this group and visited Skagen in the early 1900s. From 1908 to 1920, Paulsen was a professor at the Royal Danish Academy.

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