In the many portraits of Madame Cézanne, the intent to create symmetry and frontality is seldom as assertive as it is here. Although employed several times, this rigid, frontal arrangement is not the one most frequently used by Cézanne, who reserved it for major, elaborately handled works. Despite its smaller size and its apparently unfinished condition, this picture displays a monumental, hieratic character. The planes and volumes are distributed in space, with no concern for conventional perspective: the lengthening of the left arm and the elimination of the chair's right-hand armrest both attest to Cézanne’s lack of concern for the standard construction of depth. Among the portraits of Madame Cézanne, this one occupies an intermediate place between the domestic portrait and the rather elaborate effigies. It is hard to pinpoint the date of this painting, though it was likely done sometime between 1886 and 1890.

The highly structured, technically complex portraits of Madame Cézanne particularly attracted the attention of the next generation of artists. Juan Gris copied them several times, and Kasimir Malevitch devoted a careful analysis to them in his book that was published under the auspices of the Bauhaus (entitled Die gegenstandslose Welt, Munich, 1927).


  • Title: Portrait of Madame Cézanne
  • Date Created: Circa 1890
  • Provenance: Walter-Guillaume Collection
  • Physical Dimensions: w650 x h810 mm
  • Painter: Paul Cézanne
  • Original Title: Portrait de Madame Cézanne
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: © RMN (Musée de l'Orangerie) / Hervé Lewandowski

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