“Self-Portrait with Tassels Behind the Ear” was written approximately in 1808. Its author, Orest Adamovich Kiprensky, was the best Russian portrait painter of the first half of the 19th century. In the picture – one of several contradictory and mutually exclusive images of the artist, captured by him in the string of self portraits. The personality and work of Orest Adamovich, by the way, is still largely filled with intriguing and mysterious details.
A bright representative of romanticism, he achieved unprecedented heights of skill and success, precisely as a portrait painter. Kiprensky was looking for new opportunities in this genre. Embodying and sketching external and internal movements of the models, the master tirelessly discovered new artistic techniques and solutions. His portraits have become a kind of historical chronicle of society, admiring the scale of individual characteristics, images and insight of Kiprensky, always for certain, phenomenally and uniquely conveying the essence of the depicted persons.
With his own self-portraits, the situation is much more complicated and still causes controversy among art historians. Each of the canvases represents one or another change in the external and internal appearance of Kiprensky. “Self-portrait with brushes behind the ear”, perhaps, can be attributed to the self-praise of the creative vocation, as a painter. Bold light contrasts, confident and dynamic style of performance, richness and warmth of colors. This portrait breathes indefatigable energy, looseness and self-confidence. The young artist’s eyes are filled with excitement, his lips are compressed in impatience, and behind his ear, his hands are boldly and with a share of boyish mischief.
This self-portrait is unusual and demonstrates new aesthetic techniques in visual forms. The leading role here is played by a complex game of light and shade and unusual color effects. The scarcity of details, few color variations – only by means of light and shadow does the self-portrait seem to pierce the canvas. The facial features fashioned from the darkness are illuminated and favored by warm light. Kiprensky appears before us at the beginning of his creative journey – full of enthusiasm and hope.