Hortense Fiquet was a young model who initially lived with the painter and bore him a son in 1872, but whom he did not marry until 1886. This liaison was concealed from the Cézanne family for a long time. Hortense and her son were never really accepted by Cézanne’s family and friends. They were nicknamed "La boule" [the ball] and "Le boulet" [the little ball].
We know of twenty-five portraits of Hortense by Cézanne. This one is a full-length portrait in an outdoor setting, which is quite unusual as he preferred closer framings and interiors with little extraneous detail.
Cézanne took a freer approach when he painted those close to him, bringing his research into formal precision to the fore, thus giving the model a feeling of monumentality and permanence. As is often the case, Hortense’s face is expressionless.
The work seems to be unfinished, the lower part is barely painted and a large area of the preparatory white layer is still visible. It was stopped at this point, something Cezanne frequently did to make clear his disdain for the "finish".
Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter