Oil on canvas; signed and dated 1897.
24 x 17 inches
Rothenstein, ‘no oil painting’ by his own admission, often painted self-portraits, finding himself a willing, patient and inexpensive sitter. Wearing a dark, tightly fitting coat, his face dramatically lit and surrounded by plenty of black (à la his friends, Degas and Whistler), Rothenstein, privately though it may have been, here projected an image of cosmopolitan elegance far from his Bradford roots. The easel in his hand is almost invisible - he is more boulevardier than artist. He appears not to have exhibited this painting, perhaps out of modesty or considering it uncommercial, and it stayed in the family (his sister Blanche, 1867-1969). Upon his return in 1893 from bohemian life in Paris, Rothenstein cut quite a dash in England. Max Beerbohm caricatured him in his short story Enoch Soames: ‘He wore spectacles that flashed more than any other pair ever seen. He was a wit. He was brimful of ideas. He knew Whistler. He knew Edmund de Goncourt. He knew everyone in Paris...’.