Louis Anquetin - Autoportrait à la Pipe
Autoportrait à la Pipe
oil on canvas 65,2 x 49,3 cm
Rau Collection for UNICEF
Louis Anquetin had a close friendship with Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Emile Bernard and Vincent van Gogh. During a fruitful phase of artistic experimentation in the late 1880s he initiated a style which came to be known as “Cloisonnisme”, a term coined by art critics in 1888 to describe the works he exhibited. Shortly afterwards he gave himself the freedom to redefine himself stylistically and beyond any sensational “isms”. In doing so, it apparently did not bother him much where the various avant-gardes were tending and whether he might become alienated from them. It was obvious that his self-image as an artist is never in any doubt, and this was clearly reflected in this rather mischievous self-portrait of 1892 in which Louis Anquetin - laughing, highly alert and challenging - seems to be looking directly in our faces, even today.
His somewhat random and anarchic get-up is so much like that of an uninhibited Bohemian. His provocatively colourful, bright blue working shirt does not really go with his big grey top hat with which he has adorned his head. The cheerful rings of grey smoke from his little pipe - which seems rather old-fashioned to us now - however correspond beautifully with his hat. The pipe appears like the very natural attribute of a free man, just like the arrangement of dark fruit on his hat is clearly more than a purely decorative element, but rather a sign of rakishness and Bacchantism. His strikingly bulbous nose is slightly red. The broad pipe-embracing smile on his lips is that of an enthusiastic smoker who beams at us and indeed does so quite deliberately. His direct, slightly piercing look undoubtedly conveys the certainty that although this man takes nothing too seriously, he certainly must not be underestimated under any circumstances with his good humour and his wide-awake alertness.
“L'apport de Louis Anquetin est considérable. Eminemment doué, prodigue et généreux, il a ouvert à l'expression plastique des champs insoupconnés, que lui-même n'exploitera pas, n'en saississant pas la portée, mais auxquels d'autres sauront donner leur pleine signification. Il occupe ainsi une place unique dans l'histoire du post-impressionnisme.” (Frédéric Destremau, in his preface to: Anquetin, La Passion d'être Peintre, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Brame & Lorenceau, Paris 1991, p. 10).
With a confirmation of authenticity by Brame & Lorenceau, Paris, dated 22 April 2013; the painting is registered in the digital archive of the work of Louis Anquetin.
Madame Richard (1897); Acquired Sotheby's London 1972
Paris, November 1892 (Galerie Le Barc de Boutteville), Exposition des Impressionistes et Symbolistes, no. 15; Paris, 18 March - 27 April 1893 (Société des Indépendants, 9e exposition), no. 39; Paris, May - June 1897 (Restaurant chez Cubat), no. 21; Paris April-May 1971 (Grand Palais, Société des artistes indépendants, 82e exposition annuelle), De Pont Aven aux Nabis, rétrospective, 1888-1903, Nr. 1 ("Autoportrait, 1892"); London 1972 (Sotheby & Co.), Impressionist and Modern Paintings and Sculpture, 30 Nov. 1972, lot 24 with illus. p. 30 ("Auto-portrait au Chapeau haut-de-forme et à la Pipe")