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Self-Portrait with Yellow Hat

Hans von Marées1874

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Facing the viewer with scarcely disguised directness — like Dürer’s famous, Christ-like self-portrait in Munich — with an expression of almost foreboding seriousness, his stick across his lap like a riding whip, lordly, unapproachable: the thirty-seven-year-old presents himself more like a nobleman or Grand Inquisitor than like an artist. He wants to be perceived as the guardian of a higher law corresponding to the concept of art that he lived by, which rises above the contingencies of society and daily life. At the time, Marées was living with his younger friend, the sculptor Adolf Hildebrand, in the former Monastery of San Francesco near Florence, which is alluded to in the Tuscan landscape in the background. The Naples fresco was just finished, and the unapologetic assurance with which it was created still sets the mood in the Berlin portrait despite its dark, matte coloration.

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