Cézanne produced a number of sketches of his son Paul, as well as several paintings. This portrait is the most ambitious and the most accomplished of the portraits of his young son.
Paul appears to be seated on the arm of an armchair, only the back of which is painted on the right of a plain background. The close framing, which abruptly crops both model and chair, is reminiscent of photography.
Cézanne here uses highly simplified forms with defined outlines that recall the work of Gauguin. The composition is based on an interplay of curves: those of the armchair, the shoulders and neck of the young boy, and the curves of his face and hair. There is a strong contrast between the armchair blending with the boy’s clothes, and the blue green background. This portrait is typical of Cézanne’s experimental work around 1880.
Provenance: Ambroise Vollard, Paris (en 1931) ; Paul Guillaume (?) ; Domenica Walter