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Portrait of Madame Cézanne

1885-1886
Paul Cézanne, French, 1839 - 1906

Hortense Fiquet—Cézanne’s mistress, mother of his son, Paul, and later his wife—was the artist’s most frequent model, appearing in twenty-nine canvases. The couple met in Paris in 1869 when the nineteen-year-old Hortense was working as a bookbinder. They married in 1886 as Cézanne’s father was dying, and their union seems principally driven by a desire to legitimize their fourteen-year-old son. They often lived in different parts of the country since Cézanne’s work was peripatetic, and Hortense and Paul preferred the stability and comforts of city life.



Hortense’s loose hair, downturned lips, and soft gaze give this canvas an air of melancholy or introspection and speak of long, contemplative hours spent modeling. The sensual application of paint in Hortense’s face and her inclined head counteract the insistent vertical stripes of her bodice and the shaded line on the wall above her head.

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Object Details
With Ambroise Vollard, Paris; possibly Walther Halvorsen, Oslo; Gottlieb Friedrich Reber, Lausanne; with Paul Rosenberg, Paris, by 1926 [1]; Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947), London, by 1929 [2]; with Paul Rosenberg, New York, by 1930 [3]; sold to Henry P. McIlhenny, Philadelphia, by March 1934 [4]; bequest to PMA, 1986.1. Exhibited at French Gallery, London, "Great Masters of the French XIXth Century [Rosenberg Collection], 1926, no. 2.2. See Marie Dormoy, "La Collection Courtauld," L'Amour de l'Art, vol. 10, 1929, illus. p. 17; and J. Manson, "The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Courtauld," Creative Art, 1929, p. 262.3. Rosenberg lent the painting to the Rhode Island School of Design exhibition, "Modern French Art," 1930, no. 4.4. See letter in the curatorial file dated March 24, 1934 from the Art Institute of Chicago to McIlhenny requesting the loan of the painting (see also letter in file from McIlhenny to his insurance agent dated May 6, 1935, in which he notes Rosenberg as the source of the purchase). Provenance per John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, no. 685.

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