Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cezanne's "Young Man With a Skull" in the Barnes Foundation: Picture of Dorian Grey?

I recently toured the Barnes Foundation in Center City Philadelphia. Really, it's quite a remarkable collection of art and completely impressive when you think that it was all collected by one man, the somewhat eccentric and extremely wealth Dr. Barnes. I'm not going to delve into the history of his collection, but when he died, his will mandated that his works were arranged in the same "assemblages" as he organized them in. So, when this new building opened last year- it was originally in Merion- the curators had to arrange the art in such a fashion. And really its quite magnificent.
Young Man and a Skull (1896)
by Paul Cezanne
Anyhow, as I was perusing, I saw this one painting that completely reminded me of the (ideal) picture of Dorian Grey from The Picture of Dorian Grey. It's called Young Man With a Skull and it is a young man with a skull. But the model has such a sense of Dorian Greyish ennui and that skull is so symbolic of the moral death of the character, I just immediately thought of that. What do you think?

Definitely different stylistically, but same thematically if you think of it. And really, plot-wise, the Cezanne painted this around the same time as the story-portrait would have been painted and really Cezanne's is more of the avant-garde style of the times. Maybe I'm just crazy, but maybe not...

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