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Portrait of Madame Cézanne

1885-1886
Paul Cézanne, French, 1839 - 1906

Cézanne only allowed those he trusted to watch him paint and confined his portrait practice to family and friends. Painting sessions were lengthy—the artist reportedly could pause for twenty minutes between strokes—and required stillness so as not to disrupt the contour and laying in of his distinctive parallel brushstrokes. He reportedly reprimanded one sitter: "You’ve spoiled the pose. Do I have to tell you again that you must sit like an apple?"


Hortense Fiquet, Cézanne’s mistress, model, and later wife, was far from an inanimate object. The assertive thrust of her jaw, the circular patterns of her brocade jacket, and her shoulder suggest she was not a passive recipient of the painter’s gaze. The likelihood that she occasionally turned her gaze onto the artist is implied in Cézanne’s report that "my eyes, you know, my wife tells me that [when I am working] they jump out of my head, they get all bloodshot."

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Object Details

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