CYRIL MANN  (1911-1980)

Ecce Homo c.1978
Oil on canvas, 136 x 103cm

This is one of the last self-portraits, painted a year before Cyril Mann's death on January 7, 1980.

The title, Ecce Homo, or "Behold the Man", refers to Christ's sacrifice on the cross. The artist equates his own neglect by the art establishment to "being crucified for his art". Painting himself in the nude, he said, was a gesture of honesty: he wanted to bare all.

Defiantly holding a cigarette in one hand and paint brush in the other, he is flanked by two earlier self-portraits, which he said were analogous to the two thieves, crucified alongside Christ. Over a decade later, Lucian Freud in old age, similarly felt a need to paint a nude self portrait.

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