Skip to Content

Audio Stop 222

00:00 00:00
Shown from the thighs up, a boy wearing a crimson-red waistcoat stands against swags of fabric painted with visible strokes in white, sky blue, harvest yellow, and sage green in this loosely painted vertical portrait. Painted with choppy brushstrokes, the boy has pale, ivory-white skin, blushing pink cheeks, pursed lips, faint eyebrows, and topaz-blue eyes that gaze downward to our right. His paper-white skin contrasts with his shoulder-length dark brown hair, which is tucked behind one ear and under a chocolate-brown wide-brimmed hat. His red waistcoat is worn over a long-sleeved, collared, slate-blue shirt. The collar of his skirt is slightly flipped up on his right side, to our left, and a swipe of cobalt blue suggests a tie or scarf between the lapels. A band of sapphire blue could be a belt above olive-green trousers, and dashes of navy blue create shadows. His right hand, to our left, is planted on that hip and the other hangs straight and loose by his side, those fingertips almost brushing the bottom edge of the canvas. The boy’s body is outlined in dark blue. The drapery behind him falls in folds that sweep gently to our right. The background is painted with patches and swipes of cool blues and greens, and pale golden yellow. One swag of the drapery, over the shoulder to our left, is painted with a loose pattern suggesting leaves. One back post and a sliver of the curving back of a wooden chair peeks into the composition in the lower left corner.

Paul Cézanne

Boy in a Red Waistcoat, 1888-1890

West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 84

Depicting an Italian boy named Michelangelo di Rosa, this work is one of four devoted to this model that Paul Cézanne produced from 1888 to 1890. In each painting, the young man wears the same striking red vest, which introduces a bold accent into each of the otherwise muted compositions. While the loose brushwork and lack of shading give the work a modern appearance, the boy’s pensive demeanor and elegant pose—his weight shifted onto one leg with hips tilted, and one arm bent with hand resting on his waist—evoke Italian Renaissance portraits by artists whom Cézanne admired, lending a consciously timeless quality.

West Building Tour: Featured Selections