R461 – Portrait de Victor Chocquet, vers 1880 (FWN453)

Pavel Machotka

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Portrait de Victor Chocquet
Vers 1880
R461 FWN453

Painting portraits from posed photographs is not a simple matter: rather than integrating the sitter’s slight shifts, it allows only one view, and it is often a stiff pose to begin with. It is a surprise then that during this period Cézanne does two portraits of Victor Chocquet from a photograph, because he had already done two convincing ones from life[1]. They are less animated, but at least the better one of the two (shown here) has something to offer us: an example of Cézanne’s extraordinary sense for color. Although stiff in expression, like the photograph, this very small picture comes alive through the contrast between the cool blues and greens of the ground and the warm tones of the skin; the skin, although painted without a model, is made luminous against its ground. Cézanne had done two pencil studies of the same pose earlier, with the same jacket, cravat, and sloping shoulders, so it is possible that he felt confident enough of the likeness to give his attention to color.

[1] For a reproduction of the photograph, see, Rewald’s The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, vol. 1, p. 311. Voir aussi Portrait de Victor Chocquet.

Source: Machotka, Cézanne: the Eye and the Mind.