Cezanne = Geometric Man

Camille Pissarro, Portrait of Cezanne, 1874

I just stumbled across this portrait of Cezanne. I’d never seen a portrait of the Cezanne before, but it makes me happy that Pissarro depicted his friend in a bulky, geometric fashion. Actually, it appears that Cezanne was a large-ish man (at least at some point in his life), as evidenced by this self-portrait (c. 1873-1876), this one (c. 1875).*

I like the thought that this bulkier, full-bearded man is reflected in the geometric, bulky art forms that he created. It’s almost like Cezanne’s geometric forms (like this Mont Saint-Victoire from 1900) are portraits of the artist himself. Ha! I find that kind of cute.

*It appears that Cezanne varied in his physical bulk and size – he appears smaller in this photograph (c. 1861, when Cezanne was about 22 years old) and his face appears quite thin in this self-portrait (c. 1898-1900, when the artist was about 60 years old).

  • ixoj says:

    I had no idea Cezanne himself was so interesting to look at. I really like how his overcoat magnifies his bulkiness. Maybe the Cezanne isn't so large underneath. And his beard- I heart his beard.

  • M says:

    Yeah, Cezanne's coats do magnify his bulk (funny that he's wearing a coat in all three portraits that I posted/linked). His arms do seem pretty thick though, especially in the Pissarro portrait.

    I heart his beard too. And I heart his wild, curly hairdo in the c. 1873-76 self-portrait.

  • heidenkind says:

    Do you know who is shown in the portrait over Cezanne's right shoulder? That image looks familiar.

  • M says:

    That image looked familiar to me too! I read here that the image over the right shoulder is a political cartoon of Courbet. From what I have read in The Challenge of the Avant-Garde (I already started your reading challenge, heidenkind!), Courbet is depicted during his personal 1867 exhibition (in defiance against the official Salon) (p. 132).

    I think the cartoon over Cezanne's left shoulder is also interesting. It is titled La Delivrance and is a parody off of Eugene Deveria's Birth of Henry IV. Adolphe Theirs, the head of Versailles government, is depicted in this cartoon.

    The landscape painting below is one of Pissarro's own works.

  • M says:

    If anyone is interested, you can see a reproduction of La Delivrance by Andre Gill here.

  • Hels says:

    I thought I knew Pissarro's large oeuvre, but not this 1874 portrait. Perhaps it has been hidden away in a private collection somewhere.

    The National Gallery in London says he portrait was hanging in Pissarro's studio until his death in 1903. Since both Pissarro and Cezanne were born in the 1830s, they would have both been rather elderly by the turn of the century. I wonder if anyone else, other than visitors to Pissarro's home, saw the portrait.

    Degas acted very badly during the dreadful days of the Dryfus trial in the late 1890s, and Cezanne was not much better. Did the trial influence how Pissarro felt about this beautiful portrait of his old mate, Cezanne? It must have.


  • M says:

    Hels, thanks for your thought-provoking comment about Cezanne and the Dryfus trial. It is interesting to think about how Pissarro felt about Cezanne (and this portrait) after the trial took place.

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This blog focuses on making Western art history accessible and interesting to all types of audiences: art historians, students, and anyone else who is curious about art. Alberti’s Window is maintained by Monica Bowen, an art historian and professor.