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The closing-time call, so familiar in British pubs, signals for the artist the arrival of Father Time, personified by the bearded figure whose hand is on the latch of the door. Walking towards the door as death beckons, Kokoschka turns momentarily and faces the viewer with one last, agonised stare, confronting the inevitability of his death. The vigorous paint handling and intensity of facial expression make this painting a particularly moving example of Kokoschka's late work, akin in its mixture of animation and psychological urgency to the late works of Picasso. Begun when Kokoschka was eighty-five years old, this is the last of his many self-portraits.

August 2004