Description & Technical information

The art historian Meyer Schapiro has noted of Paul Cézanne's watercolours that ‘It is one of the charms and also a mystery of the arts commonly grouped under the name of painting that a few pencil lines with some added washes of color, hardly filling the surface and made as a preliminary study for what is to be a fully-covered canvas, can possess an intrinsic completeness…We do not have to interest ourselves in the workshop procedure of Cézanne to enjoy these offshoots of his process. Our admiration is independent of curiosity about method and technique, so compelling is the harmony of these incidental stages of his work, a harmony which is not to be confused with the values of an unfinished canvas. These modest notes achieve wholeness through the same operations of choice and perfected habit that determine the order of the most complex composition. Unlike the unfinished picture they say what they were meant to say – if only to the painter himself – and although a watercolor could have said more, they seem to us a perfect achievement as they are.’

The sitter of the present sheet remains unidentified. As the scholar Christopher Lloyd has noted, ‘Many of the models chosen by Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence during his final years were people who worked on the family property at the Jas de Bouffan before its sale in 1899. They are sometimes directly observed as portraits and at others deliberately posed for use in a narrative composition…Cézanne’s late portraiture, therefore, is dominated by those people in Provence with whom he felt most at ease and with whom he was in daily contact…the sitters are certainly not to be designated merely as types and mostly they defy classification. Rather, as with Vincent van Gogh, they reflect the artist’s respect for the dignity of his fellow human beings.’

Medium: Watercolour and pencil on white wove paper
Signature: Inscribed La Mante in pencil on the verso.


Dimensions: 47.7 x 31.5 cm (18³/₄ x 12³/₈ inches)
Provenance: The estate of the artist
By inheritance to Paul Cézanne fils, Aix-en-Provence and Paris
Part of a group of watercolours acquired from him on 11 March 1907 by the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris
Paul Cassirer, Berlin, in 1914
Anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot [Bellier], 15 June 1938, lot 4
Dr. Jacques Soubies, Paris
His posthumous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot [de Cagny & Ader], 13 December 1940, lot 3 (sold for 21,100 FF)
René Gaffé, Brussels and Cagnes-sur-Mer
Probably acquired from him by a private collection, France
Anonymous sale, Paris, Christie’s, 23 March 2017, lot 139
Private collection.
Literature: Lionello Venturi, Cézanne: Son art - son oeuvre, Paris, 1936, Vol.I, p.276, no.1095, Vol.II, pl.317 (where dated 1895-1900); John Rewald, Paul Cézanne. The Watercolours: A Catalogue Raisonné, London and New York, 1983, p.178, no.383, illustrated fig.383 (where dated 1890-1895); Guy-Patrice and Floriane Dauberville, Cezanne: Paul Cezanne chez Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 2020, Vol.I, p.95 (installation photograph as exhibited in 1914), p.126 (installation photograph as exhibited in 1931), Vol.II, pp.1092-1093, no.413; Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman and David Nash, The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné[], no.FWN 1757 (where dated 1890-1895).
Exhibitions: Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune & Cie., Aquarelles & Pastels de Cézanne, H.-E. Cross, Degas, Jongkind, Camille Pissarro, K.-X. Roussel, Paul Signac, Vuillard, May 1909, no.2 (‘La femme à la mante.’); London, Grafton Galleries, Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, 1912, no.172 (‘La femme à la mante (aquarelle)’, lent by Bernheim-Jeune); Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune & Cie., Exposition Cézanne, January 1914; Bremen, Kunsthalle Bremen, Internationale Ausstellung, 1914, no.425 (‘Dame im Mantel (Aquarell)’, priced at 2,000 Marks); Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune & Cie., 6èmeRétrospective Cézanne, May 1931; Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune & Cie., Quarante aquarelles par Cézanne, April - May 1938.
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints