Leo Self-Portraits

Sunday July 25th 2021

Judith Leyster, Born July 28, 1609

Gluck. born 13 Aug 1895

Gluck. born 13 Aug 1895

Margaret Clarke. born 1 Aug 1884

Margaret Clarke. born 1 Aug 1884

Hedda Sterne, 4 Aug 1910

Hedda Sterne, 4 Aug 1910

Andy Warhol, born 6 Aug 1928

Last month, I found a huge number of artists born under a Cancer Sun. It seems that Leos are less prone to pick up a paintbrush. I think a lot of them might find being in a studio all day too lonely.

So no surprise then that possibly the most famous Leo artist of the 20th century, Andy Warhol (6 August 1928), made sure that loads of people came to his studio, which he called The Factory.. This is typically Leo in that it’s about having a big vision and organising people.

I’ve always found  the contrast between Warhol’s clinical eye and beautiful colours strangely cruel and unnerving. He had a selfish but pioneeringly weird Moon-Uranus conjunction in Aries. That combined with Mercury, Moon, Venus, Neptune and Ascendant in Leo could make for someone pretty self-centred.

Joshua Reynolds, man about town.

Joshua Reynolds (27 July 1723) was another great self-promoter. Like Warhol he was a celebrity in his own right and knew anybody worth knowing in Georgian London. He painted all the notables of his day. But he was more than that, as well as being an excellent painter, he was an intellectual and a macher. He set up the Royal Academy in London which is still an important institution today.

Thomas Eakins, what a gaze!

And here’s another macher and portrait painter, Thomas Eakins (25 July 1844). The master of Philadelphia not only made dozens of meticulous, profound portraits, he taught generations of American artists to look and look again. Of course his teaching career was marred by controversy, but many of his students liked him enough to help him set up a new school

It’s not surprising that there’s a theatrical, costumed element to some of these paintings, since theatre is Leo’s realm. Gluck never dressed in women’s clothes anyway. And Zinkeisen was actually a costume designer.

Judith Leyster is wearing the Sun around her neck, and Florine Stettheimer, a theatre designer, has included the Sun in her self-portrait. But it’s interesting that some of these Leos see themselves as half in shadow — Warhol, Clarke, Doris Clare Zinkeisen.

It’s noticeable that there’s quite a lot of red in some of these pictures too.

But on the whole, I think the Leo artists are pretty varied!

Florine Stettheimer, born 19 Aug, 1871

Florine Stettheimer, born 19 Aug, 1871

Doris Clare Zinkeisen, 31 July 1891

Doris Clare Zinkeisen, 31 July 1891

Clémentine Hélène Dufau

Clémentine Hélène Dufau, 18 August 1869


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  1. Isy Aweigh says:

    It seems that, where there was a depth of pain or anguish in the artists’ gazes or posture in the other months, they seemed to pull that inwards to large extent. the Leos here seem perfectly happy to hand it out to others, to judge by their expressions. Something I wouldn’t have thought of before.

  2. Christina says:

    I’m finding this exercise fascinating. One of the things you’re taught about Leo is that it’s all about self-expression. I look at these guys and I think “really”; I look at the Cancers and boy do I see self-expression

  3. P says:

    My ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ disc includes several special features (duh). And Clint Eastwood says that Sergio Leone (I think, don’t truly remember off-hand) said that all directors know their painters, or have favorite ones. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Spielberg’s and Lucas’ favorite is Rockwell (esp. in S’s case)
    Perhaps Leos do, like Warhol, find the solitary act of painting to be too lonely. They need an audience. To self- express in front of a crowd. Cancer is more about instinct and perhaps this allows them/us (me included) to just express and ‘be’.

  4. Christina says:

    @P – Yes and there’s the classic polarity between Cancer and Leo. Introvert vs Extrovert, Moon vs Sun, Female vs Male. I think the Cancer ability to just express takes a huge amount of bravery – and so does the Leo showing off.

    One of the things I should have mentioned that these three Leos have in common is experimenting with new techniques. Warhol with screenprinting, film and photography, Reynolds with this paintmix, and Eakins with photography and new ways of teaching students how to see.

    This avant-gardism is a reflection of the opposite sign Aquarius.

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