This exhibition of paintings, drawings, and watercolors by Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906) traces his lifelong attachment to Hortense Fiquet (French, 1850–1922), his wife, the mother of his only son, and his most painted model. Featuring twenty-four of the artist's twenty-nine known portraits of Hortense, includingMadame Cézanne in the Conservatory (1891) and Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress (1888–90), both from the Metropolitan Museum's collection, the exhibition explores the profound impact she had on Cézanne's portrait practice.
The works on view were painted over a period of more than twenty years, but despite this long liaison, Hortense Fiquet's prevailing presence is often disregarded and frequently diminished in the narrative of Cézanne's life and work. Her expression in the painted portraits has been variously described as remote, inscrutable, dismissive, and even surly. And yet the portraits are at once alluring and confounding, recording a complex working dialogue that this unprecedented exhibition and accompanying publication explore on many levels.