Self Portrait

Philippe Laurent Roland

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 527

Neither signed nor dated, this marble bust of a man with a bare chest is a self-portrait of the Neoclassical sculptor Philippe-Laurent Roland. The subject’s profile matches that in a medallion of Roland executed by his pupil Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856). Furthermore, the bust remained in the possession of members of the Roland family. Dating to about 1785, when the sculptor was nearly forty years of age and at the height of his powers, the portrait, though austere, shows a lean man with intelligent, well-knit features and a direct gaze. David d’Angers, who wrote a biography of his teacher, remembered Roland as a man of average height and with a high-strung disposition: His "ruddy complexion revealed a sanguine character but with a predominantly nervous aspect. . . . His eyes were lively and penetrating like those of an artist. His mouth was large but well delineated. Like people occupied with serious matters, he spoke little. In his social relations he showed a dignified reserve and loyal sincerity which heightened his great austerity of principle." Roland had been a student of Augustin Pajou (1730–1809), a strong influence, who encouraged him to specialize in marble carving. As a portraitist, Roland is admired for the naturalistic, sympathetic rendering of his subjects in an advanced Neoclassical style, as is evident in the Museum’s self-portrait.

Self Portrait, Philippe Laurent Roland (French, Pont-à-Marc 1746–1816 Paris), Marble, French, Paris

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