Columbo (1971–2003)
21 user 6 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 »




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
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Shera Danese is Peter Falks wife in real life 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: One, it's nice to live at the beach. Two, I can't cook cioppino worth a damn. And three, there are more important things in life than happiness.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Very Fun Episode for Me
17 July 2017 | by studiodirectSee all my reviews

The Columbo series is a true pleasure to savor… Peter Falk is perfect in his role as the seemingly befuddled on the surface detective with hidden brilliance. Hahaha… we know that is his sly fox ruse. This episode was a marvelous surprise for me! I have spent my life a successful artist in the fine art world and in my youth could relate, somewhat, to Mr. Barsini.; albeit without the murder. What made it extra fun for me personally was that Mr. Falk, as the artist, used to show his works in the same gallery with me in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The fact that the gallery dealer would sell an original, take fifty percent off the top and take twelve months to pay-out our share makes me wonder if Peter had a hand in writing this episode; with a plot where the artist's first murder was that of the unethical art dealer… lol. Anyway it was fun to see a bit of the world as I have known it… once again without the murderous aspect. Lookup Peter Falk's art if you haven't before… he was quite good. What a treasure he was… and still is.

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