Art History Hotties: Self-Portrait Emile Friant

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Émile Friant, Self-Portrait, 1878
By KATHERINE GRABOWSKY

As Ryan Gosling once said, “Hey girl.” That’s what I envision Émile Friant saying to me in his self- portrait painted in 1878. That bone structure, those eyes, that perfectly combed hair. If this was in the 21st century, this painting would definitely be hanging on way too many locker doors or bedroom walls. He channels a unique mix of Ryan Gosling’s face, Dave Franco’s bone structure and a runway model’s attitude. Even Zac Efron would fan girl if he was lucky enough for Friant to grace him with his presence. Not only does his face fit the part, but his suit also screams classy and confident.

Just the title Self-Portrait greatly improves the painting. Either Émile Friant was a 19th-century Vogue model, or he had an unrealistic opinion of his image. Not only does this painting win the award for the best “Art History Hottie,” Friant wins for the best artist hottie. I would spend millions on one of his paintings just to get a chance to meet him and see this beautiful face in the flesh. Forget Justin Timberlake meet and greets, I want to travel back to the 19th century simply to have the opportunity to maybe, possibly, someday pass him on the street.

Friant shows me that he knows how to capture a room, but he also that he can paint, which in my opinion means husband material. His shadows catch the light with just the right depth and delicacy. The soft browns and yellows create a texture that makes me feel as though I am touching his hair. The gray and black tones of his suit immediately highlight his face - the clear moneymaker of this painting. Overall, this painting makes me question whether it is more fitting for an advertisement in the latest issue of “Sports Illustrated” rather than hanging in a museum. Thank you to Friant for showing me that art history does not only have to study scenes of battles or landscapes and sometimes, we must appreciate the finer things in life.

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