Boy in a Red Waistcoat Paul Cezanne Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Boy in a Red Waistcoat (Le Garçon au gilet rouge) is a part of the highly respected Barnes Foundation. This artwork was produced in 1888–1890 and is sometimes translated into the alternative title of Boy in a Red Vest.

Paul Cezanne would produce four artworks which bore a similar resemblance, with this being one of those. A boy wears much the same clothing in each one making them instantly recognisable as a series, with Cezanne then experimenting with different figurative poses. In this example the boy seems to be sat down and faces us front on, allowing us to see more of the detail of his clothing which includes the charming red waistcoat as well as a long sleeves shirt and light blue tie. His brown trousers which we are familiar with from other paintings appear in the very bottom of the composition which is aggressively cropped at around his waist. He peers off to our left hand side, and does not look as confident or relaxed as in other paintings from the series. His brown hair hangs down to his shoulders, naturally curling around his prominent ears. His face is long and narrow, and his lips pursed.

Cezanne chooses here to include some elements of the room within this painting. We find some sort of material coming in from the left hand side and then parts of the wall behind, including perhaps a hanging painting or window. These parts are deliberately subdued and intended not to distract us from the main figure in the foreground. The overall atmosphere within this piece could therefore be described as of melancholy, with the model's body language being typical of an introspective mood. The boy pictured here has been identified as Michelangelo de Rosa, who actually worked as a professional model and would be used by Cezanne several times for a number of figurative portraits. This particular piece is intended to be a study of mood and body language, where the artist looks for subtle signals of this particular mood. The other contributions to this series feature much the same facial expressions, including Boy in a Red Vest which is perhaps the most famous of them.

The Barnes Foundation is based in Philadelphia and features an impressive selection of work which was originally a private collection that has since been opened up to the public. The highlights to be found here include a good number of other Cezanne paintings as well as a a considerable number of items from Renoir's career as well. The main focus is art produced within France, though not always by French painters, with the likes of Picasso and Van Gogh also featured here. It remains one of the finest collection of 20th century art anywhere in the world, and provides a comprehensive study of early 20th century French art which remains a highly influential period. The likes of Matisse, Rousseau and Modigliani are also featured here as well.

Boy in a Red Waistcoat in Detail Paul Cezanne