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Biographie de Norman Rockwell (document en anglais)

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Norman Rockwell was a 20th-century American painter and illustrator. He was born third february, 1894 and died November 8, 1978. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American cultureNorman Rockwell's style has been described as storyteller

I will now begin the description and analysis of work Triple Self-Portrait.

It was painted in 1960 for the cover of Saturday Evening.

We see the artist's back, sitting on a stool. He leans to look in a mirror on a chair. His hand is still with the brush on the canvas in front of him and where begins to reveal its self-portrait. The painter and his image in the mirror correspond perfectly : same size, same glasses, same shirt etc. The self-portrait on canvas is without glasses and nicely stylized. The painter looks younger, his face is rounder. The pipe that he smokes is horizontal, not falling as in "reality".

There are three portraits on the canvas. That is why the title is Triple self-portrait. The first self-portrait is face in the mirror, where we see the face and bust of the painter. The second portrait is on the canvas, where he is represented more younger. The third self-portrait shows the artist in whole but he is back.

Clinging to the left of the canvas a sheet of sketches of the self-portrait (four heads and hand holding a pipe) and right, reproductions of four famous self-portraits: Dürer, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Van Gogh. we can see on the floor brushes, a tube of paint and a wastebasket where smoke escapes. The smoke seems a reference to autobiographical anecdote : the painter has burned a basket with the ashes of his pipe. The fire caused the loss of various objects, in particular historical costumes collected by the painter. The presence of military helmet placed on the canvas, pipe, and the smoke escaping from the wastebasket are probably referring the fire.

I will now try to make a interpretation of the work.

The canvas shows the artist who looking in the mirror and realize it's self-portrait. This is a mise en abyme. Moreover, Rockwell represents four self-portraits for painters Dürer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso, in his own self-portrait. It is also a mise en abyme.

The differences between the three portraits invite the viewer to wonder: what isself-portrait fairest, the most faithful to reality? Any representation, is it not alwaysmisleading?

The portrait on the canvas seems more flattering: the painter is younger, rounder face, he does not have glasses. The painter seems to tell us that make his self-portrait is lying, improve reality. However, it is the only portrait which contains the signature of the author. Does this say that it is the only one he claims ?


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