Chardin had spent this decade struggling through a whole plethora of problems and was forced into embracing the medium of pastel once his health deteriorated. To attack a new art form with such vigour whilst his own life was suffering such turmoil underlines the strength of character that this artist must have had. We have seen other examples with the likes of Degas, who experienced a similar issue with his eye sight, and also Matisse who switched to cut-out art once bedridden. It is a sign of an artist's integrity that he keeps 'fighting' until the end, determined to make use of every last breath to create new art and examine new ideas. We are fortunate in that sense to have these pastels left from his career, as soon after his death Chardin's reputation would be lost for some years.
As with the piece of 1771, this self portrait captures the artist staring at the viewer with a white head covering and a blue bow. He again wears a fairly thick looking coat a small scarf underneath. Again too, the background is dark and plain, so as to avoid one's attention being drawn away from the main focal point. The addition here that is not included in the other self portrait is, of course, the easel. He holds a pencil or brush in his right hand and the edge of the easel is just about visible. His expression in this pastel is a little more positive than in the other, even though his own personal health had deteriorated even further by this point. The fact that the two pastels, eight years apart, are so similar might suggest that his ability to experiment significantly was over, though both pieces are undeniably impressive, even for an artist who had spent more time working with this medium than Chardin had.
A further study of this piece will start to reveal further differences between it and the earlier artwork. He is clearly more weary, but offers us a defiance here rather than slight anger as previously. He holds the crayon towards us as if to say that this was his new approach and he would carry on working until he could no-longer continue. This piece is believed to be his last artwork of all, finished just a few months before his passing. Once can see the tiredness in his eyes, and perhaps the resignation that he his journey as an artist is now over. Besides his physical health problems, there were also considerable mental challenges that also impacted his demeanor - such as a turbulent political situation within the French art world.