CORINTH, Lovis
(b. 1858, Tapiau, d. 1925, Zandvoort)

Self-Portrait with Skeleton

1896
Oil on canvas, 66 x 86 cm
Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

This self-portrait is a variation on Böcklin's approach to the traditional memento mori theme. The two pictures, referring to a long lineage in portrayals of life's vanity, are thematically comparable, but the differences in approach are striking: where Böcklin uses colour nuances, and the proximity, facial expressions and gestures of the protagonists, seen against an undefinable background, to create a mysterious atmosphere, Corinth deliberately avoids all unclarity whatsoever. The skeleton on its hook is plainly an anatomical model. The painter is beside it, but no relation is established between him and the skeleton.