Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair 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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In the painting, Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair, she is portrayed wearing a moire satin outfit and a plain jacket that has been fastened by a large bow. The skirt that she is wearing covers almost half of the painting.

Madame Cezanne is sitting, leaning a little bit to the left, and the red armchair she is sits on is decorated with tassels. In most portraits, Madame Cezanne’s hair is shown parted in the centre and drawn back from the face in a nice way. This effect makes her face’s roundness show more. However, in this specific portrait of Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair by Paul Cezanne her hair has been fastened on the top of her head. This is unusual but still brings out the beauty of the image.

The famous Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair by Paul Cezanne is a portrait of his wife. In his works, Paul Cezanne was more of a methodical and painstaking artist and he always needed a model to pose for long periods and this required a lot of patience. This specific piece of art is an early portrait and is shows Madame Cezanne dominating a canvas built up that is composed of many small blocks of faintly coloured paint strokes. The model, Marie-Hortense Fiquet Cezanne (1850-1922) was a model for another artist, and she later met Cezanne at around 1869, had a son and they later married. In his life, Paul Cezanne painted a total of 27 portraits, mostly in oil of Madame Cezanne and she became his most-painted model.

The two met at a Paris art school and it was a famous place where artists met each other. During their time in this school, artists used to paint various models who worked there. Marie-Hortense’s main job at this school was bookselling and bookbinding, but she also worked part-time as a model. The two started a relationship but Paul was very afraid of disappointing his father who was a good banker so he went ahead and hid his affair with Marie-Hortense. They ended up getting married but Marie lived separately from Paul, her husband, for a high percentage of their married life and eventually they separated. This distance between the two of them is reflected in the portraits where Cezanne paints an impression of Madame Cezanne being distant and self-absorbed.