The loss of the halo in Baudelaire could have as its equivalent in painting the numerous skulls painted by Cézanne, often alone (“autonomous”) but sometimes accompanied by a portrait. The bony skull had previously been a preferred symbol for “vanity.” Once divorced from the discourse of religion, the skull now seems to qualify the subject not from the perspective of its destiny but in terms of what is happening with its presence. So, one might suggest that, for the portrait, the halo—the possibility, very simply, of a divine dignity or a consecration—was nothing other than the possibility of painting the presence deep within the subject, be it a mysterious presence or indeed precisely in its mystery (a mystery that is as social, hierarchical, or heroic as it is personal, spiritual, or sensual)....
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