Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
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Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)

Page of studies, including Madame Cézanne sewing (recto); Head of the artist's son, and kettle (verso)

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Page of studies, including Madame Cézanne sewing (recto); Head of the artist's son, and kettle (verso)
pencil on paper (recto & verso)
7 7/8 x 9¼ in. (20.2 x 23.6 cm.)
Recto executed circa 1877-80; verso executed circa 1877
Sir Kenneth Clark, London.
Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York, 1961.
Benjamin Sonnenberg, New York, by whom acquired through the above; his sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 June 1979, lot 1430.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
L. Venturi, Cézanne, Son art - Son oeuvre, 1936, vol. I, no. 1240 (illustrated vol. II, pl. 343).
A. Van Buren, 'Madame Cézanne's Fashions and the Dates of her Portraits', in The Art Quarterly, vol. XXIX, no. 2, 1966, p. 127, footnote 20.
M. Sharp Young, 'Treasures in Gramercy Park', in Apollo, vol. LXXXV, no. 61, March 1967, p. 181 (illustrated fig. 13).
W. Andersen, 'Cézanne, Tanguy, Chocquet', in The Art Bulletin, vol. XLIX, no. 2, June 1967, p. 137 (illustrated fig. 7).
W. Andersen, Cézanne's Portrait Drawings, 1970, recto no. 33, pp. 19-10 (illustrated p. 75); verso no. 99 (illustrated p. 120).
A. Chappuis, The Drawings of Paul Cézanne, A Catalogue raisonné, London, 1973: recto, vol. I, no. 398 (illustrated vol. II, fig. 398); verso, vol. I, no. 701bis (illustrated vol. II, fig. 701bis).
L. Venturi, Cézanne, London, 1978, no. 4 (illustrated p. 78).
Vienna, Österreichische Galerie im Belvedere, Paul Cézanne, 1961, no. 104.
New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, Artists and Writers: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Portrait Drawings from the Collection of Benjamin Sonnenberg, May - July 1971, no. 17, p. 24 (illustrated pl. 17).
Special notice
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Sale room notice
Please note that this work has been requested for the exhibition From Delacroix to Cézanne: Victor Chocquet the Impressionists Friend to be held at the Columbus Museum of Art from October 2012 to January 2013 (provisional dates).

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Lot Essay

The present sheet shows a group of intimate drawings that combine to provide a fascinating insight into the private life of Paul Cézanne. On one side are two images of Hortense Fiquet, the mother of his son and the woman whom he would, in 1886, marry, as well as a portrait of his friend and patron Victor Chocquet (fig. 1); on the other side is a tender portrait of the artist's son as a child, as well as a highly-finished study of a teapot whose volumetric form and long, heavy shadow Cézanne has enthusiastically explored.

It is rare in Cézanne's work for dates to be accorded to his paintings and drawings with much confidence, and yet in the case of this sheet, there are certain markers that point towards at least some of it being executed around 1877. This date is in part supported by the age of the artist's son, Paul, as he is represented on the verso (he was born in 1872); it is also corroborated by the relationship between the image of Hortense sewing and a painting of the same motif now in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (fig. 2). In that work, the decoration visible appears to indicate that the painting was created within the confines of the Paris apartment that he inhabited that year at 67, rue de l'Ouest. The fact that Cézanne spent only a very limited and finite amount of time in that apartment provides an important milestone for the dating of his works, allowing scholars to work backwards from the style of the pictures which can, with some certainty, be ascribed to this period in order to place other works in a larger, though often subjective and fiercely debated, chronology.

The portrait of Chocquet relates to an oil which has been on a long-term loan to the Fondation Gianadda, Martigny. That work has been dated to 1880-85 by Rewald and to 1879-81 by Venturi; the artist's son had written that that painting was taken from a photograph of the subject, but gave a date of 1902. The present drawing relates in particular to the portrait photograph mentioned, even down to one of the stray locks of hair; however, the two observations of Hortense appear to have been taken directly from life, especially the lower image of her reclining head on a pillow, an image that fills a great proportion of the sheet, lending it a fantastic immediacy as well as intimacy, implying that the artist himself was viewing her from a position of personal proximity. It is notable that the mouth of Hortense, which in Cézanne's oils is often reduced to the point of near-imperceptibility, merging with the rest of the skin-tones of her face, has here been afforded far greater attention and detailing.

Stylistically, it is intriguing to note the different treatments that the various elements of this sheet of studies contains: in the figure of Hortense and the teapot especially, Cézanne has shown his fascination with the depiction of the three-dimensional within the constraints of a two-dimensional medium that had already become such a key concern of the artist. By contrast, the likeness of the young Paul appears fleetingly and spontaneously sketched, showing the fascination of an artist father with his son as a subject. The image of Chocquet appears, despite its scale on the sheet, impressively finished; it has the air of an Impressionist portrait, apt considering the celebrated collection he amassed of pictures by the artists related to that movement, and especially Cézanne. Indeed, one of Cézanne's earlier oil portraits of Chocquet had featured at the legendary Troisième Exposition des Impressionistes in 1877, only a couple of years after the pair had been introduced by Renoir, forging the bond that would remain so crucial to the artist. Chocquet had provided a lifeline to the Impressionist movement, especially after Cézanne introduced him to Monet in 1876. He soon became dedicated in particular to his friend Cézanne, who would paint half a dozen portraits of him over the years. In his writings and his purchases, Chocquet's loyalty to the Master of Aix was unambiguous and enthusiastic, as is reflected in the fact that he came to own thirty-five oils by him.

It is a telling reflection of the quality of this sheet of studies that it was formerly in the collection of the distinguished art historian Sir Kenneth Clark who, when in 1933 he was appointed the director of the National Gallery, London, at the age of 30, was the youngest person ever to have occupied that distinguished position. He later became better known to viewers of both American and British television for his epic series, Civilisation.

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