Paul Cezanne used his wife, Hortense, during a period of over 20 years, as his most patient and steadfast model.
The recent installation of many of Cezanne’s heretofore separated works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, notes that Cezanne preferred to paint subjects he knew well. Therefore, his wife and son were rendered over and over in the works mounted at the show, Madame Cezanne. In terms of his landscape art, he painted Mont Sainte-Victoire.
My daughter Sabrina, currently a Classics major at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO and I viewed the exhibition in New York last Saturday, January 3, 2015.
As an art student, oil painter, and docent at the Greenwich Historical Society’s Bush-Holley House (regarded as the “Birthplace of American Impressionism”) I count Cezanne as the artist who most informs my outlook on painting. His emotion, angles, seeming disregard for perspective and devotion to his inner voice, gave me all the permission I needed at the age of 14 to paint with the palette I chose, the brushstrokes that somehow emanated from my arms, and the size (usually large) to paint. Thank you, Cezanne.
In the show Cezanne was quoted like this,” (I) perceive form in terms of color relationships.”
What this does for an artist is to allow one to use the oil paint to build up and define the 3rd dimension for the viewer to project an interpretation of space, temperature, atmosphere, and perspective. Students of color and physics learn that colors are not static; rather the light can add and subtract from the colors by their relationships to one another.
I wish to also thank my former husband, David, who talked his way into Cezanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence on my behalf, some years ago. The studio was to close at 5 p.m. and we arrived there at precisely 5 minutes until 5. Let’s just say I had the pleasure of taking in Cezanne’s extremely neat and orderly studio.
An enlightening infrared/X-ray of Cezanne’s process on “Madame Cezanne in the Conservatory” showed that Cezanne did, indeed draw in his underpainting, seeking definition of the form and dimension of his wife’s figure and forearms.
This series of paintings depicting Hortense in a certain red dress were all together for the first time since they were created in the studio.