Few women artists have produced as many self portraits as Paula Modersohn-Becker. Despite the brevity of her life, around fifty such paintings and drawings survive. She painted this Selfportrait with hat and veil during her 1906-1907 visit to Paris. Egyptian mummy portraits were a major source of inspiration for it. These mummy portraits had been discovered in the 1880s in the Fayum oasis and she saw reproductions of them on show in Paris in 1903. She was struck by their size and simplicity ‘Forehead, eyes, mouth, nose, cheeks, chin, that is all (…) How simply the planes of such an ancient mouth are recorded.” The close-cropping of the – sometimes proto-Cubist – portraits produced in the summer of 1906 may suggest intimacy but, despite this ‘close-up’ effect, the images convey a considerable emotional distance and dissociation.
Source: R. Stamm, H.P. Wipplinger (eds.), Paula Modersohn-Becker: Pionierin der Moderne, Krems 2010 and J. Bijlsma, S. Kullmann, T. Wieteler (eds.), Paula Modersohn-Becker, Rotterdam 2006.