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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: Wounded Art


Madame Cézanne (Hortense Fiquet, 1850–1922) in a Red Dress

Paul Cézanne (French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence)

Oil on canvas
45 7/8 x 35 1/4 in. ( 116.5 x 89.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ittleson Jr. Purchase Fund, 1962
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Of four portraits that Cézanne painted of his wife wearing a shawl-collared red dress, this is the only one to show her in an elaborately furnished interior. Seated in a high-backed yellow chair and wedged between well-placed props that seem to bend to her form and shift to her weight, Madame Cézanne is the lynchpin of a tilting, spatially complex composition. The mottled blue wall, the dark red band that edges the wainscoting, and the mirror over the fireplace at left identify the setting as the apartment that Cézanne rented at 15 quai d’Anjou, Paris, from 1888 to 1890.

  • Provenance

    [Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1904; stock book A, no. 4175; bought from the artist in half shares with Bernheim-Jeune on April 8 and transferred to them on July 4 for Fr 3,000; Bernheim-Jeune, stock no. 13621; sold by Bernheim on July 7 to Pellerin]; Auguste Pellerin, Paris and Neuilly (1904–d. 1929); his son, Jean-Victor Pellerin, Paris (1929–62; sold to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées. "Salon d'automne," October 1–22, 1907, no. 18 (as "Portrait de Mme Cézanne," lent by M. Pellerin).

    Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Cézanne," May–October 1936, no. 76 (as "Grand Portrait de Mme Cézanne en Rouge," lent by M. et Mme Pellerin, Paris).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    Kunsthalle Tübingen. "Cezanne: Gemälde," January 16–May 2, 1993, no. 41.

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Cézanne," September 25, 1995–January 7, 1996, no. 167 (as "Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair").

    London. Tate Gallery. "Cézanne," February 8–April 28, 1996, no. 167.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Cézanne," May 30–September 1, 1996, no. 167.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 79.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19.Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

  • References

    Rainer Maria Rilke. Letter to Clara Rilke. October 16, 1907 [Engl. transl. published in Rainer Maria Rilke, "Letters on Cézanne," New York, 1985, pp. 57–58], mentions "those touchingly tentative portraits of Madame Cézanne" at the 1907 Salon d'Automne and describes the public's distaste for them.

    [Ambroise Vollard]. Cézanne. [191?], ill., calls it "Madame Cézanne au fauteuil jaune" and dates it 1890–94.

    Gustave Coquiot. Paul Cézanne. Paris, [1919], p. 238, ill. opp. p. 238, calls it "Portrait de Mme Cézanne,—à la pincette".

    Julius Meier-Graefe. Cézanne und sein Kreis: Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte. 3rd ed. [1st ed., 1918]. Munich, 1920, ill. p. 167, dates it about 1888.

    Georges Rivière. Le Maître Paul Cézanne. Paris, 1923, p. 216, calls it "Portrait de Madame Paul Cézanne en robe de laine rouge" and dates it 1888; states that it was painted in Cézanne's apartment in the quai d'Anjou.

    Roger Fry. "Le développement de Cézanne." L'Amour de l'art 7 (December 1926), p. 408, ill., comments that it could date before 1890, but that it already displays innovative methods; compares the colors to Vermeer.

    Roger Fry. Cézanne: A Study of His Development. New York, 1927, pp. 68–69, fig. 34, pl. XXIII.

    Julius Meier-Graefe. Cézanne. London, 1927, pl. LXVIII, dates it about 1888.

    Frantz Jourdain and Robert Rey. Le Salon d'Automne. rev. ed. Paris, 1928, p. 59.

    Georges Rivière. Cézanne: le peintre solitaire. Paris, 1933, p. 139, ill. p. 111, dates it 1887 in the caption and 1888 in the text.

    Gerstle Mack. Paul Cézanne. New York, 1935, pl. 17, dates it about 1888.

    Otto Benesch. "Cézanne: Zur 30.Wiederkehr seines Todestages am 22.Oktober." Die Kunst 75 (December 1936), ill. p. 70, dates it about 1888–90.

    René Huyghe. Cézanne. Paris, 1936, pp. 44, 56, 59, fig. 28, calls it "Portrait of Madame Cézanne au rideau" and dates it about 1888.

    Maurice Raynal. Cézanne. Paris, 1936, pl. LXX, calls it "Mme Cézanne aux pincettes" and dates it about 1880.

    Charles Sterling in Cézanne. Exh. cat., Musée de l'Orangerie. Paris, 1936, pp. 100–101, no. 76, calls it "Grand portrait de Mme Cézanne en rouge" and dates it about 1888–90; comments that the curtain appears in a group of pictures from 1888–92, including "Boy with Skull" (Barnes Foundation, Merion, Penn; V679, R825) and "Mardi Gras" (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts; V552, R618); observes that "Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair" (1888–90; formerly collection Alphonse Kann, now Art Institute of Chicago; V572, R653) depicts the sitter in the same red dress, pose, and setting.

    Lionello Venturi. Cézanne: son art—son oeuvre. Paris, 1936, vol. 1, p. 188, no. 570; vol. 2, pl. 182, no. 570, calls it "Madame Cézanne au fauteuil jaune," dates it 1890–94, and locates it in the collection of J. V. Pellerin; identifies it as no. 18 of the Cézanne retrospective at the 1907 Salon d'Automne.

    Fritz Novotny. Cézanne. Vienna, 1937, p. 8, pl. 63, dates it 1890–94.

    Fritz Novotny. Cézanne und das Ende der Wissenschaftlichen Perspektive. Vienna, 1938, p. 87 n. 82.

    Albert C. Barnes and Violette De Mazia. The Art of Cézanne. New York, 1939, pp. 217, 373–74, 415, no. 133, ill., call it "Madame Cézanne in Red, Holding Handkerchief" and date it to the early 1890s.

    Raymond Cogniat. Cézanne. Paris, 1939, pl. 87, dates it 1890–94.

    Erle Loran. Cézanne's Composition: Analysis of His Form with Diagrams and Photographs of His Motifs. [2nd ed., 1946]. Berkeley, 1943, pp. 85, 91.

    Liliane Guerry. "Le Problème de l'équilibre spatial dans les portraits Cezanniens de la période constructive." Études d'art 2 (1946), pp. 88, 91, 93, 96–98, 104, fig. 1.

    Liliane Guerry. Cézanne et l'expression de l'espace. [1st ed.; 2nd ed., 1966]. Paris, 1950, pp. 10, 35, 67, 76, 93, 97, 103, 105–6, 110–11, 115–16, 171–74, fig. 20, dates it 1890–94.

    Lawrence Gowing and Ronald Alley. An Exhibition of Paintings by Cézanne. Exh. cat., Royal Scottish Academy Building. Edinburgh, 1954, unpaginated, under no. 47, calls ours among the most advanced and perhaps latest in date of six paintings set in the same room, all dated 1888–90: two of Madame Cézanne (Art Institute of Chicago, V572, R653; Fondation Beyeler, Basel, V571, R651) and three of a boy in a red waistcoat (Museum of Modern Art, New York, V680, R657; Sammlung E. G. Buerhle, Zurich, V681, R658; Barnes Foundation, Merion, Penn., V683, R656).

    Robert William Ratcliffe. "Cézanne's Working Methods and Their Theoretical Background." PhD diss., University of London, 1960, p. 18.

    Jean de Beucken. Cézanne: A Pictorial Biography. [German ed., 1960]. New York, 1962, pp. 93, 137, ill., dates it 1890–93, but states that it was painted in the quai d'Anjou apartment [where Cézanne lived from 1888–90; see Ref. Rishel 1996].

    Kurt Badt. The Art of Cézanne. [German ed., 1956]. Berkeley, 1965, p. 153, mentions it as an example of "the way in which [Cézanne's] figures sit lost in space," imparting a sense of loneliness to his portraits.

    Anne H. van Buren. "Madame Cézanne's Fashions and the Dates of Her Portraits." Art Quarterly 29 (1966), pp. 119, 121, 123, dates it to the early 1890s, citing the painting style and composition, but notes that it is impossible to date based on the "shapeless housedress" worn by the sitter; contrasts the "highly abstract composition" and "unstable forms" with the more spontaneous and realistic "Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory" (MMA 61.101.2).

    Jean Paris. "Espaces de Cézanne." Cézanne. [Paris], 1966, pp. 167, 215, fig. 121, dates it 1890–94.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX–XX Centuries." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 3, New York, 1967, pp. 100, 109–11, ill., date it about 1890, placing it ten years after "Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory" (MMA 61.101.2), in which she appears younger; in addition to the Beyeler and Chicago portraits of Madame Cézanne (V571, R651; V572, R653), mention "Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress" (1888–90; Museu de Arte, São Paulo, Brazil; V573, R652) as a "preliminary" phase of this "same pictorial theme".

    Chuji Ikegami. Cézanne. Tokyo, 1969, p. 106, no. 25, ill., dates it 1890–94.

    Wayne Andersen. Cézanne's Portrait Drawings. Cambridge, Mass., 1970, p. 43 n. 7, suggests that the partially visible painting in the background of "Man with a Pipe" (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; V688, R790) may represent this picture or one of the smaller portraits of Madame Cézanne in the red dress [Refs. Venturi 1936 and Rewald 1996 identify it as "Madame Cézanne" (about 1888; Detroit Institute of Arts; V528, R607)].

    Sandra Orienti in L'opera completa di Cézanne. [French ed., 1975; English ed., 1985]. Milan, 1970, p. 112, no. 573, ill., dates it 1890–94.

    René Huyghe Lydie Huyghe in La Relève du réel: la peinture française au XIXe siècle: impressionnisme, symbolisme. Paris, 1974, p. 225, date it about 1888.

    John Rewald. "Some Entries for a New Catalogue Raisonné of Cézanne's Paintings." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 86 (November 1975), p. 166, publishes a list from the Bernheim-Jeune archives calling this picture "Femme en rouge assise sous draperie" and noting that it was acquired from Vollard and sold on July 7, 1904 to Pellerin.

    Liliane Brion-Guerry in Cézanne: The Late Work. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1977, pp. 77, 81, ill. [French ed., "Cézanne: les dernières années (1895–1906)," Paris, 1978, p. 19, 22, ill.], dates it about 1890.

    Judith Wechsler. The Interpretation of Cézanne. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1981, p. 39, dates it to the late 1880s.

    John Rewald. Paul Cézanne: The Watercolors, A Catalogue Raisonné. Boston, 1983, pp. 26, 157, under no. 296, p. 174, under no. 375, notes that the same mirror, wainscot, and curtain appear in the series of the boy in the red waistcoat (V683, 680–681; R656–658).

    Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 11, 194–95, 254, ill. (color), dates it about 1890 and notes that it is one of twenty seven portraits of Madame Cézanne; observes that the flower she holds here "seems neither more nor less real than those in the curtain" and the reflection of another curtain in the mirror "is in keeping with the spatial dislocations" of the entire composition; notes that the two sides of the sitter's face are treated differently.

    Ronald Pickvance in Cézanne. Exh. cat., Isetan Museum of Art. Tokyo, 1986, p. 66, ill., compares it to the São Paulo portrait (V573, R652).

    Richard R. Brettell. Post-Impressionists. Chicago, 1987, p. 65, notes that in Chicago, Beyeler, and MMA portraits, Madame Cézanne is presented unfashionably, without hat or jewelry; observes that the yellow chair was a common type in French bourgeois households.

    Bob Kirsch. "Paul Cézanne: 'Jeune fille au piano' and Some Portraits of His Wife, An Investigation of His Painting of the Late 1870s." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 110 (July–August 1987), p. 24.

    Cézanne by Himself: Drawings, Paintings, Writings. London, 1988, p. 314, ill. p. 171 (color), dates it about 1890–94.

    Ettore Camesasca. The São Paulo Collection: From Manet to Matisse. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam. Milan, 1989, pp. 112, 116, ill., calls the São Paulo portrait (V573, R652) a "'synthetic' re-issuing" of this work.

    Götz Adriani. Cézanne: Gemälde. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Tübingen. Cologne, 1993, pp. 52, 63, 79, 136, 138, 140, 144–47, 150, 153–54, 257, no. 41, ill. (color) [English ed., 1995], dates it between 1888 and the spring of 1890, in the apartment at 15, quai d'Anjou; considers this picture the first of the series, followed by the "intermediate" Chicago portrait (V572, R653), and then the "considerably reduced" São Paulo portrait (V573, R652); calls the Beyeler portrait (V571, R651) a later copy by Cézanne after the Chicago version; comments that our picture is the most imposing of Cézanne's portraits, noting "for all the seeming candor of their arrangment [sic], there are in fact no portraits more uncommunicative than these".

    Walter Feilchenfeldt in Götz Adriani. Cézanne: Gemälde. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Tübingen. Cologne, 1993, p. 310 n. 35, erroneously states that it was shown at the Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin in 1909.

    Richard Verdi. "Tübingen: Cézanne." Burlington Magazine 135 (1993), p. 296, fig. 53.

    Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Elizabeth Murray: Looking for the Magic in Painting." New York Times (October 21, 1994), p. C28, ill. (installation photo), quotes Murray's interpretation of the relationship between Cézanne and his wife based on the "'mixture of fear and love'" and "'uncertainty'" in this picture.

    Françoise Cachin. "Un génie indéfinissable." Connaissance des arts 521 (1995), pp. 48–49, ill. (color), dates it 1893–95.

    Isabelle Cahn. Paul Cézanne. [English ed., 1995]. Paris, 1995, p. 81, ill. (color), dates it 1890–94.

    Karen Wilkin. "Cézanne at the Grand Palais." New Criterion 14 (December 1995), p. 15.

    Françoise Cachin in Cézanne. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. Philadelphia, 1996, pp. 170, 346, 403 [French ed., Paris, 1995], compares its composition, pose, and handling to "Woman with a Coffeepot" (about 1895; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; V574, R781) [see Ref. Rishel 1996].

    Isabelle Cahn in Cézanne. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. Philadelphia, 1996, p. 430 n. 6 [French ed., Paris, 1995], lists it among thirteen paintings depicting the same curtain, including "Still Life with Curtain and Flowered Pitcher" (about 1899; Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; V731, R846).

    John Golding. "Under Cézanne's Spell." New York Review of Books 43 (January 11, 1996), pp. 46–47, ill. (color).

    Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Wayne Thiebaud: A Little Weirdness Can Help an Artist Gain Cachet." New York Times (August 23, 1996), p. C25.

    John Rewald, in collaboration with Walter Feilchenfeldt, and Jayne Warman. The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 17, 338, 340, 423, 427, 563, 568, 573, no. 655, colorpl. 25; vol. 2, p. 221, fig. 655, calls it "Madame Cézanne au fauteuil jaune" and dates it 1888–90; illustrates a pencil sketch of two hearth implements seen on the left of this painting [Adrien Chappuis, "The Drawings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné," Greenwich, Conn., 1973, no. 954].

    Joseph J. Rishel in Cézanne. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. Philadelphia, 1996, pp. 274, 276, 399–400, no. 167, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris, 1995], dates it 1893–95; argues that although the setting appears to be 15, quai d'Anjou, where Cézanne lived from 1888–90, its similarity to "Woman with a Coffeepot" (about 1895; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; V574, R781) suggests a later date; calls it the most ambitious portrait of Madame Cézanne; reproduces two images of the curtain depicted in this picture: a watercolor (private collection; V1124, RWC 296) and an oil study (Abegg Foundation, Riggisberg; V747, R654), both dated 1888–90.

    Richard Shone. "Cézanne." Burlington Magazine 138 (May 1996), p. 340, fig. 39 (color), erroneously places it in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

    Karen Wilkin. "Monsieur Pellerin's Collection." New Criterion. 14, April 1996, p. 22, calls it "Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Armchair" and dates it 1893–95.

    Görel Cavalli-Björkman in Cézanne i blickpunkten. Exh. cat., Nationalmuseum. Stockholm, 1997, p. 41, under no. 6, ill.

    Richard Shiff. "La touche de Cézanne: entre vision impressionniste et vision symboliste." Cézanne aujourd'hui. Paris, 1997, p. 119, fig. 30 (color), dates it 1893–95.

    Katharina Schmidt in Cézanne, Picasso, Braque: Der Beginn des kubistischen Stillebens. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel. Ostfildern-Ruit, 1998, p. 33 n. 36, dates it 1888–90.

    Furuta Hirotoshi in Cézanne and Japan. Exh. cat., Yokohama Museum of Art. Tokyo, 1999, p. 203 n. 15, pp. 209–11, n. 17.

    Christina Feilchenfeldt in Cézanne: Finished, Unfinished. Exh. cat., Kunstforum Wien. Ostfildern-Ruit, 2000, p. 168, fig 2, calls it "Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair" and dates it 1888–90; considers it the last of the series because it is the most developed, spatially abstract, and richly executed.

    John McCoubrey in Eliza E. Rathbone George T. M. Shackelford. Impressionist Still Life. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington. New York, 2001, p. 36, fig. 31.

    Mary Tompkins Lewis. "The Path to Les Lauves: A History of Cézanne's Studios." Atelier Cézanne. [Aix-en-Provence], 2002, p. 21, fig. 24 (color detail).

    Young-Paik Chun. "Melancholia and Cézanne's Portraits: Faces beyond the Mirror." Psychoanalysis and the Image: Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Malden, Mass., 2006, pp. 95–96, 101, 109, fig. 4.2, calls it "Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair" and dates it 1893–95.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 129, 221, no. 118, ill. (color and black and white).

    Susan Alyson Stein in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 113, 186–87, no. 79, ill. (color and black and white).

    Carolyn Lanchner in Cézanne and Beyond. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2009, colorpl. 143, calls it "Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair" and dates it 1893–95.

    Richard Shiff in Cézanne and Beyond. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2009, pp. 59–60, 62, 67, ill. (color), discusses the "aesthetic animation" of the sitter's hands in this picture, noting "those hands are moving, but by what source of energy?".

    Susan Sidlauskas. Cézanne's Other: The Portraits of Hortense. Berkeley, 2009, pp. 10, 40–41, 57, 138, 147–48, 174–75, 178–86, 192, 214, 219 n. 7, p. 263 n. 100, colorpl. 10, comments that the common red housedress, which cannot be dated from contemporary fashion illustrations, is the only link between the MMA, Beyeler (V571, R651), Chicago (V572, R653), and São Paulo (V575, R652) portraits; analyzes the pictorially bifurcated body and face in the MMA painting as consistent with Cézanne's "ambivalence about the signs of gender"; reads the right side of the face as a "pictorial grafting" of the artist's masculine features and therefore a surrogate self-portrait.

  • Notes

    The same room and curtain also appear as the setting for a series of portraits of a boy wearing a red waistcoat (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Ref. Venturi 1936, no. 683; Ref. Rewald 1996, no. 656; Museum of Modern Art, New York, V680, R657; and Sammlung E. G. Buerhle, Zurich, V681, R658). Cahn [Ref. 1996] lists thirteen paintings with this curtain in the background.

  • See also