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A Selection of Portraits from Cézanne’s Sketchbook

Paul Cézanne, The Artist's Son Leaning on his Elbow, c. 1887c. 1887

Paul Cézanne, The Artist's Son Leaning on his Elbow, c. 1887, graphite on wove paper, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1992.51.9.c

Throughout his life, Paul Cézanne filled loose sheets of paper and sketchbooks with drawings. He drew to develop ideas for paintings and to quickly capture something of interest that caught his eye—a landscape, a work of art in the Louvre, or the head of a family member or friend. Most of Cézanne’s sketchbooks are no longer intact, as many were unbound long ago and the single sheets dispersed to collectors. The National Gallery of Art owns one of the few sketchbooks that remained intact. In conjunction with the exhibition Cézanne Portraits (March 25–July 8, 2018) this feature offers a selection of drawings of heads and faces from the sketchbook, primarily those of his wife Hortense Fiquet and their son Paul. The drawings date from the late 1870s, when Cézanne was in Paris, to the end of the 1890s, when he had returned to live in his native Aix-en-Provence. These quick sketches were not generally the result of formal portrait sessions, but were made at home, providing a glimpse of the intimacy of his family life.

The sketchbook can be viewed in its entirety here.

Several loose drawings from the Gallery’s collection (some originally from sketchbooks) are included in the slide show at the bottom of the page.


More Portrait Sketches by Cézanne from the National Gallery of Art Permanent Collection