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Uncle Dominique

Uncle Dominique

Paul Cézanne 1839 - 1906

Oil on canvas 39 x 30.5 cm

Lent by the Provost and Fellows of King’s College (Keynes collection)

Photo © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Cézanne maintained that ‘the goal of all art [was] the human face’. He painted portraits throughout his career, and over fifty self-portraits in various media between around 1866 and 1906.

Between October 1866 and January 1867, he painted at least ten portraits of his maternal uncle, Dominique Aubert, a local bailiff. Like others in the series, this was probably painted in a single afternoon session, the oil paint vigorously applied with a palette knife.

Another of Cézanne’s models, the writer Antoine Valabrègue, marvelled at Aubert’s tenacity in modelling so frequently; Cézanne was, he wrote, ‘a horrible painter as regards the poses he gives people … Every time he paints one of his friends, it seems as though he were revenging himself on him for some hidden injury’.

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