The second half of the painting has an ochre background, with a blue snake entwined around Gaugin's hand, with a plant of yellow flowers gently wilting in the foreground. There is the obvious religious symbolism in Self Portrait with Halo and Snake by Paul Gauguin, with the apples of the tree and the snake clearly synonymous with the Garden of Eden. Gauguin's use of block colours, especially the ochre and red of the background, was inspired by Ukiyo-e, a style of Japanese wood block printing that utilised this original technique to capture portraits of many important kabuki performers and celebrated Japanese beauties.
Self Portrait with Halo and Snake by Paul Gauguin was painted during his stay with friends in Le Pouldu, a costal region in Southern Brittany. Here, Gauguin and his friends helped one of their group, Marie Henry, to renovate the inn where they were staying. Self Portrait with Halo and Snake by Paul Gauguin was one of the works the artist painted to be displayed in her dining room, along with a second piece called Portrait of Jacob Meyer de Haan to hang alongside his own self-portrait. He had been in love with Marie Henry, however she chose his competitor suitor, Jacob Meyer de Hann instead, causing Gauguin much anguish and jealousy. His self-portrait depicts not just the Fall of Man, but also his own suffering as a sinner.
Self Portrait with Halo and Snake by Paul Gauguin was painted towards the end of the artist's life, and is part of his collection of works that comprise his Brittany period. Gauguin remains famous as one of the artists most integral to the Symbolism and Post-Impressionist French movements, and Self Portrait with Halo and Snake by Paul Gauguin is a perfect example of how the artist used metaphor to express his relationship to religious ideology and iconography. A close friend of Van Gogh, there are many similarities between the artist's Post-Impressionism works and that of the arguably more well-known Van Gogh, who he continued to exchange letters and correspondence with throughout his lifetime. Self Portrait with Halo and Snake by Paul Gauguin can currently be seen on display in Washington D.C at the National Gallery of Art.