Columbo (1971–2003)
20 user 7 critic

Murder, a Self Portrait 

Columbo investigates the apparent drowning of a famous painter's first wife.


James Frawley


Richard Levinson (created by), William Link (created by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Patrick Bauchau ... Max Barsini
Fionnula Flanagan ... Louise
Shera Danese ... Vanessa Barsini
Isabel García Lorca Isabel García Lorca ... Julie (as Isabel Lorca)
Vito Scotti ... Vito
George Coe ... Dr. Sydney Hammer
David Byrd David Byrd ... Ralph
Don Bovingloh Don Bovingloh ... Customer
Lenny Hicks Lenny Hicks ... Morgue Attendant
Danny Hassel Danny Hassel ... Lifeguard
Roger Etienne Roger Etienne ... Night Visitor
Frank Wiltse Frank Wiltse ... Officer (as Frank L. Wiltse)
Harold Harris Harold Harris ... Harry Chudnow
Don Schneider Don Schneider ... Bystander at Beach


Max Barsini is an artist who has a most unusual living arrangement with three women. He is married to Vanessa, and Julie is his live in model. Louise is his first wife who lives next door. Max takes delight in the way they fight for his attention, but also likes to control them. So when Louise starts seeing a psychologist, Max not only fears that she will break away but also that she will reveal a secret that Max will kill to keep hidden and he does. He makes it appear that she drowned but Columbo knows something is wrong. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 November 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Murder, a Self Portrait See more »

Filming Locations:

Burbank, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The real painter of Columbo's portrait is Jaroslav Gebr's. Gebr was born in Eastern Europe and fled the Communists, arriving in Hollywood. He began in the art departments of Fox and MGM and eventually ended up at Universal's Television studios where he led their Art Department for years. See more »


The front doorway of Max Barsini's house has a mezuzah, a Jewish religious symbol. There is nothing in the episode, including other decor in the home, to suggest Barsini or any of the episode's other characters are Jewish. See more »


Vanessa Barsini: You're like a swollen house guest who eats up all the food, and while the rest of us go hungry, you complain about heartburn.
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User Reviews

One narcissistic murderer
29 January 2017 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

One of the most narcissistic murderers that Peter Falk ever encountered on Columbo has to be artist Patrick Bauchau. This man lives in a household that numbers at one time, an ex-wife who couldn't do without him, a current wife, and a 'model'. And they're very reason for existence is provide for his needs whatever they might be.

As it turns out one of them the ex-wife Fionnula Flanagan is going and she and her therapist George Coe are now an item. But Bauchau has one deep dark secret that he does not to come out either in session or in pillow talk. For that reason he strangles Flanagan and fakes her drowning.

Even with Bauchau painting a portrait of Peter Falk, Columbo's instincts are aroused. The other two women, Sheri Danese and Isabel Garcia Lorca are also in there on revolt.

I have to say that the evidence Columbo has is mighty thin and Bauchau could get off in court. But if a jury finds him as arrogant and egotistical as I did, he doesn't stand a chance.

There's also a nice supporting bit by bar owner Vito Scotti who did a few Columbo stories. All in all a worthwhile bit of viewing.

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