Woman with a Coffeepot (1890-1894)
painting 347 of 352 by Paul Cézanne

Woman with a Coffeepot (La femme à la cafetière), 1890-1894 by Paul Cézanne

Information about painting

The model for this portrait has not been precisely identified but she was probably one of the employees at the Jas de Bouffan, the Cézanne’s family home near Aix en Provence. Cézanne used few professional models, preferring to work with members of his family or people he knew well, probably because he felt shy and painted very slowly. Despite this proximity, Woman with a Coffeepot is a study of forms rather than character.

The main elements in the composition – the woman’s body, the cup and the coffeepot – are painted in a highly simplified way in a strict arrangement of horizontal and vertical lines. This geometrical approach to volumes and the slant of the table represented from a higher angle than the objects standing on it herald Cubism.

Probably executed about 1895, the painting records the shift in Cézanne’s art, twenty years after he had begun to move away from Impressionism. He wished to “treat nature through cylinders, spheres and cones” and has approached this portrait like a still life. Nevertheless, the model's work-roughened hands and plain but dignified face show the painter’s sympathy for this “monumental icon of the simple life” (F. Cachin).