Skip to main content

Main Building

Portrait of Madame Cézanne

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906)

Over a twenty-year period, Paul Cézanne explored the complexity and changing emotions of Hortense Fiquet’s oval face. Few portraits of the artist’s mistress, model, and later wife were shown publicly in the artist’s lifetime. Dating these portraits is difficult because Hortense’s hairstyle and clothing are often similar and are not depicted in sufficient detail to suggest contemporary fashions. It is likely that Cézanne painted this example around 1885–87, when Hortense was about thirty-five years old. Her tilted head and upraised chin give her an alert, inquiring look. Recent study of the painting indicates that the foliage was once part of a still life. The artist reduced the size of the canvas and turned it 90 degrees to create this portrait, in which remnants of a floral arrangement suggest an outdoor setting. The light background and the luminous colors of her face further suggest the effect of diffused sunlight.

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.

Main Building