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Francesco Hayez

(1791 Venice – 1882 Milano)

Self-portrait of the Artist Drawing. Lithograph on Chine appliqué. 45.5 x 36.6 cm. Signed on the stone, with the stamped monogram of the artist. Circa 1830. Calabi (Saggio sulla Litografia. La prima produzione italiana in rapporto a quello degli altri paesi sino al 1840) 34. 

This very rare, lithographed self-portrait shows the artist at the age of about forty, sitting on a chair and drawing. He is dressed in a loose painter’s smock and on his head is a soft velvet beret. The celebrated master, who was at the height of his fame around 1830, bears these attributes of his profession with proud confidence. Hayez is looking up from his sheet of paper and is fixing the beholder with a penetrating, melancholy gaze. The dark, eloquent eyes, the nose and the mouth, the curly hair of his side whiskers and the lock peeping out from under the beret are rendered with great sensitivity. The soft transitions and the subtle play of light on the face and the wonderfully lifelike hands of the artist show that Hayez, the virtuoso of Italian Romanticism, had acquired great mastery not only in painting, but also in lithography. Between 1828 and 1834 the artist used this technique to produce a series of works which were published by the Milanese publisher Vassalli. The present portrait, which probably dates to about 1831, relies not on Romantic sublimation, but on closeness to life and realistic simplicity to exert its impact. The painting Self-portrait in Front of a Lion and a Tiger in a Cage from the year 1831 (Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Mazzocca 156) shows the artist at about the same age and in identical costume.

A superb, contrasting impression with narrow margins and with the lower text margin. Some foxing, slight aging, otherwise well preserved.

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