‘Madame Cezanne’ on view at the Met

Renee Minus White | 3/12/2015, 12:16 p.m.
On view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art now through March 15 are paintings, drawings and watercolors by Paul Cezanne ...
“Madame Cezanne in the Conservatory”

On view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art now through March 15 are paintings, drawings and watercolors by Paul Cezanne of his wife and most-painted model, Hortense Fiquet (1850-1922), and they are quite remarkable. This first exhibition of “Madame Cezanne,” which features 24 portraits, is made possible by the Florence Gould Foundation and by an indemnity from the Federal Council of Arts and the Humanities.

You can tell how much Fiquet influenced Cezanne’s work, even though she wasn’t well-received by his family and friends. No one posed more for Cezanne. In the exhibition, you will get a glimpse of their complex relationship. Despite her expressions in many of the works, you will observe her strong character. Imagine how life was for a woman in love back then. It is important to look in her eyes and see how she dressed and carried herself.

“Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair”

“Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair”

The couple met in Paris in 1860. In the early years, she worked as a bookbinder. When she began modeling for him, Fiquet was only 22. While working with her, Cezanne had some difficulty concealing their relationship and their child from his family at the time. His authoritative father disapproved. As an artist, Cezanne often made requests for funds, and the couple lived apart for long periods, even after they were married in 1886. Don’t you just love love stories?

The exhibition includes “Madame Cezanne in the Conservatory” (1891) and “Madame Cezanne in a Red Dress” (1888-90). Both of these pieces are from the Met’s collection. You can also gaze at “Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair” (ca.1877) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, along with “Madame Cezanne in Blue” (ca. 1885-87) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and “Portrait of Madame Cezanne in a Striped Dress” (ca. 1885-87) from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibit also includes works from a private collection on loan to Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, including striking watercolors, 14 drawings and three rare sketchbooks with studies of Hortense and young Paul.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, published by the museum and distributed by Yale University Press (hardcover, $45). Other related programs include a “Sunday at the Met” event, exhibition tours, gallery talks and a studio workshop that will focus on portraiture through drawing. This exhibition is beautiful and worth a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2014/madame-cezanne.