Madame Cézanne (Hortense Fiquet, 1850–1922) in the Conservatory

Paul Cézanne French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 826

Hortense Fiquet, a former artist’s model, met Cézanne about 1869; they had a son in 1872, fourteen years before they married. This painting, one of more than two dozen for which Hortense posed, is set in the conservatory of Jas de Bouffan, the Cézanne family estate near Aix. The unfinished canvas offers a revealing glimpse into Cézanne’s working method. He placed Madame Cézanne’s carefully modeled head slightly off-center, cradled between a lush tree and a spindly plant, and then proceeded to build up the rest of the pyramidal composition, touch by exacting touch.

Madame Cézanne (Hortense Fiquet, 1850–1922) in the Conservatory, Paul Cézanne (French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence), Oil on canvas

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