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“Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne

"Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress" by Paul Cézanne

“Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne

“Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne is a portrait of the artist’s wife wearing a shawl-collared red dress seated in a high-backed yellow chair.

Madame Cézanne is placed in a spatially complex composition, which includes a mirror over the fireplace on the left and a richly colored heavy cloth on the right. 

The subject, Marie-Hortense Fiquet Cézanne (1850 – 1922), was a former artist’s model who met Cézanne about 1869; they had a son in 1872, and later married. Paul Cézanne painted 27 portraits, mostly in oil of her, and she became his most-painted model.

Marie-Hortense Fiquet met Cézanne at a Paris art school. The School was used by artists to paint the models who worked there.

Fiquet’s primary job was as a bookseller and bookbinder, but she combined this with part-time work as a model.

They started a relationship; however, Cézanne was afraid of offending his father, a well-to-do banker, and to not compromise his allowance, he went to great lengths to conceal his liaison with Fiquet.

Fiquet and Cézanne eventually married. However, Fiquet was to live separately from her husband for much of their married life, and they later separated.

The psychological distance between husband and wife appears to be reflected in her portraits, where Cézanne gives the impression of her being distant and self-absorbed.

 Despite their complicated relationship, a large number of paintings by Cézanne of his wife attests to her compelling role in the artist’s life and artistic development.

Paul Cézanne was a Post-Impressionist painter who laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century Impressionism to the 20th century’s Cubism.

Both Matisse and Picasso have remarked that Cézanne “is the father of us all.” Cézanne’s art is characterized by repetitive, exploratory small brushstrokes that build up to form complex color fields, demonstrating his intense study of his subjects.

Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress

  • Title:                   Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress
  • Artist:                 Paul Cézanne
  • Year:                   1890
  • Medium:             Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:       Height: 116.6 cm (45.9 in); Width: 89.5 cm (35.2 in)
  • Museum:            Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Paul Cézanne

Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art

MET European Paintings Collection

MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection

MET Greek and Roman Art Collection

MET Egyptian Art Collection

MET Asian Art Collection

MET Ancient Near Eastern Art Collection

MET American Wing Collection

MET Islamic Art Collection

MET Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Collection

MET European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Collection

MET Medieval Art Collection

MET Drawings and Prints Collection

MET Costume Institute Collection


  • What does this portrait tell us about how Cézanne viewed his wife?
  • How revealing is this portrait of Madame Cézanne?
  • Does Madame Cézanne appear happy? Is there any tenderness in either her expression or his depiction of her?
  • Did Cézanne make her sit for days and days as he experimented with his style of painting? So is this painting reflective of his obsession?


“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”
– Paul Cézanne


Photo Credit: Paul Cézanne [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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