Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906)
Oil on canvas
31 3/8 x 25 1/4 in. (79.7 x 64.1 cm)
Wolfe Fund, 1951; acquired from The Museum of Modern Art, Lillie P. Bliss Collection (53.140.1)
Cézanne set out to make his mark at the onset of his career with a group of highly wrought landscapes and figure paintings that he later described as "gutsy" (couillard), given their forceful—even brute—character. In emulation of his hero Courbet, he applied his paint directly with a palette knife on the coarse, unprimed canvas, in thick, blocky passages, destined to produce cracks. Cézanne's approach imparted weight and vigor to the series of at least nine portraits of his maternal uncle Dominique Aubert. The forty-nine-year-old bailiff not only indulged his nephew with multiple sittings but also agreed to pose in various costumes, such as that of a Dominican monk (1993.400.1).