Among the portraits of Hortense Fiquet, this one occupies an intermediate place between the domestic portraits and the more elaborate ones. Madame Cézanne is shown seated on a simple armchair, her hands resting on her lap in a very hieratic pose. As usual, her face is completely expressionless and rather unflattering. This portrait was painted rapidly with irregular and visible brushstrokes. Cézanne uses great economy of means here: the luminous highlights are produced, not with an impasto of light paint, but by leaving the support visible. This technique gives volume and life to Hortense’s very simple black dress.
The background is minimal and indeterminate, rendered in a simple blue and green scumble. Only the brushwork and subtle variations of green and blue bring it to life. Here again, the painting has been left unfinished.
The frontal view of the model is subtly adjusted by the chair placed slightly at an angle, which introduces a hint of imbalance into the composition.
Provenance: P. Cassirer, Berlin; Paul Guillaume (en 1927); Domenica Walter