Artist: Léon Spilliaert (Belgian, Ostend 1881–1946 Brussels)

Date: 1907

Medium: Gouache, watercolor, and colored pencil on paper

Dimensions: 20 3/4 x 14 7/8 in. (52.7 x 37.8 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Gift of William S. Lieberman, in honor of A. Hyatt Mayor, 1980

Accession Number: 1980.208

Rights and Reproduction: © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Spilliaert made this picture in 1907, when he was in his twenties and living and working at his parents’ home on the Belgian coast. He found his subject matter close at hand: the beach, the sea, and his own person, depicted in moody, dramatically-lit self-portraits like this one. Here, the artist shows himself astride a chair, his drawing board propped up before him. Although he is surrounded by everyday objects—a coat rack, an umbrella, and a gas lamp—the double reflection of the mirrors in the background adds a note of strangeness to the scene.