Boy in a Red Vest (1888–1890) Paul Cezanne Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Boy in a Red Vest (1888–1890) is one of a series of artworks produced by Cezanne of a young Italian model. He varied the figurative poses in each one and worked in both oils and watercolours for this body of work.

The model, Michelangelo de Rosa, worked professionally and so was able to achieve just the mood that the artist desired. There is a feeling of melancholy throughout these paintings, with the young boy starting out into the distance as if consumed within their own thoughts. This mood is achieved not just with these blank stares, but also in how the lips are pursed together and also with the shoulders hunched over in a slightly depressed manner. Each of these paintings has the model in the same clothes, with a red waistcoat, light coloured shirt and brown trousers. The Italian has long brown hair which reaches down to his shoulders and Cezanne again keeps details around the rest of the composition to a minimum. Boy in a Red Vest from elsewhere in the series captures him standing, but in this piece he appears to be sat down on perhaps a patterned wooden stool.

Interestingly, the work was purchased by Claude Monet directly from Cezanne himself and the landscape painter considered it to be one of the finest in his personal collection. Cezanne was very much the artist's artist, helping to inspire many new movements within Europe in the early 20th century, making his oeuvre highly critical to the direction of western art during that period. The series on this Boy in a Red Vest offers a variety of angles as Cezanne tries out different figurative ideas whilst keeping the model himself consistent throughout. He would, of course, impress in a good number of different genres including still life and landscapes too, and was always looking for new challenges which could continue to evolve his output.

Boy in a Red Vest (1888–1890) can be found in the impressive collection of MoMA, New York, USA. The institution serves modern art particularly well, meaning Cezanne's inclusion is entirely valid as many consider him to have been the first true modern artist and his work would inspire countless numbers of artists who followed on afterwards, both in Europe and the US. MoMA also own other artworks from his career, such as The Bather and Turning Road at Montgeroult, plus also a good number of watercolour and pencil studies. The gallery remains one of the most visited in all the world and its exceptional collection ensures that this is likely to continue for many years to come. Their own selection was acquired through a variety of means, including private purchases and also a large number of generous donations from American collectors. This particular painting was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. David Rockefeller.

Boy in a Red Vest (1888–1890) in Detail Paul Cezanne