In this self-portrait, the artist has returned to the subject of Gauguin at his Easel, which had been painted in 1885 during his stay in Copenhagen. In both, the artist is shown intent on his craft, palette in hand, with a sideways glance. In tenor, however, the later work demonstrates the self-confidence of an artist who had just held a one-man exhibition in a prime Parisian gallery, which in critical terms he had deemed a success; who had the support of the most vanguard Parisian writers; and who had begun to write Noa Noa which he intended as a work to 'facilitate the understanding' of his most recent Tahitian paintings.
The work is dedicated to the poet Charles Morice (1860-1919), who collaborated with Gauguin on the writing of Noa Noa in 1893-95, which would mean that the work dates from his period in Paris, although it is taken directly from a photograph of 1888.
In spring 1867 Renoir painted Paris city scenes with Monet. His view of the recently built Pont des Arts, which spans the Seine between the Louvre and the Academy of Fine Arts, is a broad, panoramically structures scene that includes the bustle at a steamer landing stage and a lively interplay of light, shadow and clouds of various colours.
Among the works generally ascribed to Bosch's first period of activity (c. 1470-85) may be included several small biblical scenes: the Epiphany (Adoration of the Magi) in Philadelphia, the Ecce Homo in Frankfurt (with a related version in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts) and an altar wing in Vienna, the Christ Carrying the Cross. Their early date is suggested by their relatively simple compositions and their adherence to traditional compositional types.
In the Ecce Homo, crowned with thorns and his flesh beaten raw by the scourge, Christ stands with Pilate and his companions before the angry mob. The dialogue between Pilate and the crowd is indicated by the Gothic inscriptions. From the mouth of Pilate issue the words Ecce Homo (Behold the Man). There is no need to decipher the inscription Crufige Eum (Crucify Him), the cry which rises from the people below; their animosity is unmistakably conveyed by their facial expressions and threatening gestures. The third inscription Salve nos Christe redemptor (Save us, Christ Redeemer) once emerged from two donors at lower left, but their figures have been painted over. The heathen character of the men surrounding Christ is suggested by their strange dress and headgear, including pseudo-oriental turbans. The scene's essential wickedness is further indicated by such traditional emblems of evil as the owl in the niche above Pilate and the giant toad sprawled on the back of a shield carried by one of the soldiers. In the background appears a city square, the Turkish crescent fluttering from one of its towers. The enemies of Christ have been identified with the power of Islam which in Bosch's day, and long afterwards, controlled the most holy places of Christendom. The buildings, however, are late Gothic; only the oddly bulging tower in the distance evokes a feeling of far-off places.
The Dutch character of this early work is unmistakable. The homely faces and animated gestures of Christ's tormentors recall Passion scenes in Dutch manuscripts of the second and third quarters of the fifteenth century, where we encounter similar physical types, slight in proportion, flatly modelled and often unsubstantial beneath their heavy robes.