“Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory” by Paul Cézanne
“Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory” by Paul Cézanne is an unfinished portrait of the artist’s wife. This painting shows Cézanne’s working method.
Cézanne placed the head slightly off-center, between a tree and a plant, and then proceeded to build up a pyramidal composition, brushstroke by brushstroke.
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. Artists painted the models who worked at the art school. 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. To not compromise his allowance, he went to great lengths to hide 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 (Hortense Fiquet) in the Conservatory
- Title: Madame Cézanne (Hortense Fiquet) in the Conservatory
- Artist: Paul Cézanne
- Year: 1891
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 36 1/4 x 28 3/4 in. (92.1 x 73 cm)
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET and Met Breuer
- Name: Paul Cézanne
- Born: 1839 – Aix-en-Provence, France
- Died: 1906 (aged 67) – Aix-en-Provence, France
- Nationality: French
- Movement: Post-Impressionism
Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory
Explore the Met Breuer Collection
- “Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory” by Paul Cézanne
- “Salvator Mundi” by Albrecht Dürer
- “Two Girls with Parasols” by John Singer Sargent
- “Opening of the Fifth Seal” by El Greco
- “Baptism of Christ” by Jacopo Bassano
MET European Paintings Collection
- “Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon
- “Saint Jerome as Scholar” by El Greco
- “Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez
- “Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet
- “View of Toledo” by El Greco
- “The Musicians” by Caravaggio
- “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David
- “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers
- “The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog)” by Claude Monet
- “Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne
MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection
- “Reclining Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)” by Wassily Kandinsky
- “Jeanne Hébuterne” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne
- “Bathers” by Paul Cézanne
MET American Wing Collection
- “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze
- “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent
- “Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt
- “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham
- “The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer
Cezanne’s Madame Cezanne in a Red Dress
“We live in a rainbow of chaos.”
– Paul Cézanne
Photo Credit: Paul Cézanne [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons