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Portrait of Madame Cézanne

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.

Object Details

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