Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Property from the Estate of Eugene V. Thaw
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)

Garçon assis

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Garçon assis
oil on canvas
14 ¾ x 19 3/8 in. (37.5 x 49.2 cm.)
Painted in 1890-1895
(possibly) Ambroise Vollard, Paris.
(possibly) Galerie Moos, Geneva.
Nordmark collection, Stockholm.
E.V. Thaw, New York (acquired from the above, circa 1983).
Giuseppe Eskenazi, London (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, by 1998.
J. Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, vol. 1, p. 471, no. 779 (illustrated, vol. 2, p. 268; with incorrect dimensions).
W. Feilchenfeldt, J. Warman and D. Nash, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné (, no. 510 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art; Kobe, The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art and Nagoya, The Aichi Prefectural Art Gallery, Cézanne, September-December 1986, p. 64, no. 30 (illustrated in color, p. 65).
Kunstforum Wien and Kunsthaus Zürich, Cézanne: Finished, Unfinished, January-July 2000, p. 192, no. 32 (illustrated in color, p. 193; with incorrect dimensions).

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Lot Essay

The present painting depicts Cézanne's son Paul, born in January 1872 to Hortense Fiquet, whom the artist would marry fourteen years later. One of Cézanne's favorite portrait subjects, Paul appears in at least nine oils from the 1880s (Rewald, nos. 463-468, 534, 579, 649), together with more than a hundred drawings. He also posed for the figure of Harlequin in the monumental painting Mardi Gras of 1888 (Rewald, no. 618; Pushkin State Museum, Moscow).
In contrast to the earlier portraits of Paul, here he is captured in the throes of later adolescence, cocky and self-possessed. Painted circa 1890-1895 when Paul would have been about twenty years old, Garçon assis displays a sympathy for the psychological vicissitudes of youth. Dressed in a simple coat and cap and seated with his legs folded under him, it is a compassionate portrait of a young man painted against a vivid green and blue background. The brush strokes are sweeping and emphatic, as though the picture were executed in an inspired moment.
Cézanne had a complex attitude toward the notion of finish and often left passages of his paintings only lightly worked, as in the present canvas. These more open compositions seem to have exerted a special fascination on Cézanne's fellow painters. Camille Pissarro wrote in 1895, following a visit to Cézanne's first solo exhibition at Vollard's gallery, "There are exquisite things, still-lifes of irreproachable accomplishment, others much worked but left in a suspended state that are still more beautiful" (quoted in op. cit., exh. cat., 2000, p. 230).
Christina Feilchenfeldt has written, "As with Degas, the unfinished areas in portraits by Cézanne often draw attention to the completed portions and thus constitute an essential element of the pictorial conception...The artist deliberately omitted to fill the canvas, a finished pictorial solution having already been attained" (ibid., pp. 128-129).


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