The Eternal Feminine (L'Éternel Féminin)

Object Details

Title:

The Eternal Feminine (L'Éternel Féminin)

Artist/Maker:

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839 - 1906)

Culture:

French

Place:

France (Place created)

Date:

about 1877

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

43.5 × 53.3 cm (17 1/8 × 21 in.)

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The nude played a central role in Paul Cézanne's art throughout his career, but, paradoxically for an artist who usually drew from life, he seldom used nude models in his working process: he was said to be ill-at-ease with naked sitters. "I paint still lifes," he once told Renoir, "Women models frighten me." Cezanne contented instead with studying earlier artists and using the drawings after nude models that he had made in art school in Paris.

The meaning of this enigmatic painting is unclear, and it has been known by several titles. This woman is confronted by devotees from different arts and occupations, among them a mitered bishop, whose admiration seems intrusive, even aggressive. A painter sometimes identified as Eugène Delacroix stands at his easel painting the scene. The bald figure at the painting's bottom may be Cézanne himself. Whether she encourages their adoration, passively accepts it, or is trapped by her cult is unclear. Like many of Cézanne's nudes, the woman's face is nearly blank, except for her red eye sockets. Around 1877 Cézanne began to use the parallel diagonal strokes seen here to impose order and to unify his picture's surface.

Provenance
by 1899 -

Ambroise Vollard, 1867 - 1939

by 1907 - 1929

Auguste Pellerin, 1852 - 1929 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Jean-Victor Pellerin, 1929.

1929 - 1955

Jean-Victor Pellerin (Paris, France), sold to Wildenstein & Co., 1955.
Source: JPGM Paintings Department, curatorial files, letter from Wildenstein & Co., June 24, 2002.

1955 - 1956

Wildenstein & Company, sold to Stavros S. Niarchos, 1956.
Source: JPGM Paintings Department, curatorial files, email from Wildenstein & Co., April 21, 2011.

1956 - 1958

Stavros S. Niarchos, 1908 - 1996 (Paris, France), sold to Wildenstein & Co., 1958.
Source: JPGM Paintings Department, curatorial files, email from Wildenstein & Co., April 21, 2011.

1958 - 1959

Wildenstein & Company, sold to Harold Hecht, 1959.
Source: JPGM Paintings Department, curatorial files, email from Wildenstein & Co., April 21, 2011.

1959 - 1962

Harold Hecht, American, 1907 - 1985 (Beverly Hills, California), sold to Wildenstein & Co., 1962.
Source: JPGM Paintings Department, curatorial files, email from Wildenstein & Co., April 21, 2011.

1962 - 1973

Wildenstein & Company, sold to Mrs. John Goulandris, 1973.
Source: JPGM Paintings Department, curatorial files, email from Wildenstein & Co., April 21, 2011.

1973 -

Mrs. John Goulandris (New York, New York)

- 1987

Galerie Beyeler (Basel, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1987.

Exhibitions
Exposition Cézanne (November 1899) (Cat. 6)
  • Galerie Vollard (Paris), November to November, 1899
Salon d'Automne (Exposition rétrospective d'oeuvres de Cézanne) (October 1 to October 22, 1907) (Cat. 5)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais (Paris), 1907
L'Impressionnisme (June 15 to September 29, 1935) (Cat. 10)
  • Palais des beaux-arts (Brussels), June 15 to September 29, 1935
Cézanne (May to October, 1936) (Cat. 37)
  • Musée de l'Orangerie (Paris), May to October, 1936
Homage to Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) (July 1939) (Cat. 16)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (London), July to July, 1939
A Loan Exhibition of Cézanne for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary (March 27 to April 26, 1947) (Cat. 13)
  • Wildenstein & Company (New York), March 27 to April 26, 1947
Cézanne: Paintings, Watercolors & Drawings (February 7 to May 16, 1952) (Cat. 23)
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, February 7 to March 16, 1952
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), April 1 to May 16, 1952
Cien Años de pintura francesa (1953) (Cat. 22)
  • Instituto Francés de la America Latina (Mexico City), 1953
Masterpieces of French Painting through Five Centuries (October 17, 1953 to January 10, 1954) (Cat. 80)
  • Isaac Delgado Museum (New Orleans), October 17, 1953 to January 10, 1954
Van Gogh et les peintres d'Auvers-sur-Oise (November 26, 1954 to February 28, 1955) (Cat. 13)
  • Musée de l'Orangerie (Paris), November 26, 1954 to February 28, 1955
A Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture from the Niarchos Collection (December 3, 1957 to April 20, 1958) (Cat. 6)
  • Knoedler & Company (New York), December 3, 1957 to January 18, 1958
  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), February 5 to March 2, 1958
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, March 15 to April 20, 1958
The Niarchos Collection (May 23 to June 29, 1958) (Cat. 6)
  • Tate Britain (London), May 23 to June 29, 1958
Sammlung S. Niarchos (January 15 to March 1, 1959) (Cat. 30)
  • Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurich), January 15 to March 1, 1959
Cézanne: Loan Exhibition [...] for the Benefit of The National Organization of Mentally Ill Children (November 5 to December 5, 1959) (Cat. 11)
  • Wildenstein & Company (New York), November 5 to December 5, 1959
The French Impressionists and Some of Their Contemporaries (April 24 to May 18, 1963) (Cat. 21)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (London), April 24 to May 18, 1963
Paul Cézanne: Die Badenden / Paul Cézanne: The Bathers (September 10 to December 10, 1989) (Cat. 29)
  • Kunstmuseum (Basel), September 10 to December 10, 1989
Cézanne Gemälde (January 16 to May 2, 1993) (Cat. 12)
  • Kunsthalle Tübingen, January 16 to May 2, 1993
Cézanne (September 25, 1995 to September 1, 1996) (Cat. 42)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais (Paris), September 25, 1995 to January 7, 1996
  • Tate Britain (London), February 8 to April 28, 1996
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia), May 26 to September 1, 1996
Faszination Venus: Bilder einer Göttin von Cranach bis Cabanel / Venus: Bilder einer Göttin (October 14, 2000 to August 15, 2001) (Cat. 72/40)
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum - Fondation Corboud (Cologne), October 14, 2000 to January 7, 2001
  • Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek (Munich), February 1 to April 22, 2001
  • Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (Antwerp), May 20 to August 15, 2001
Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde (September 13, 2006 to September 16, 2007) (Cat. 29)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), September 13, 2006 to January 7, 2007
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, February 17 to May 13, 2007
Cézanne & Giacometti: Tvivlens veje / Cézanne & Giacometti: Paths of Doubt (February 20 to June 29, 2008) (Cat. 6)
  • Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark), February 20 to June 29, 2008
Cézanne et Paris (October 10, 2011 to June 11, 2012) (44)
  • Musée du Luxembourg (Paris), October 10, 2011 to February 27, 2012
  • National Art Center, Tokyo, March 28 to June 11, 2012
Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art (October 18, 2015 to May 22, 2016)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis), October 18, 2015 to January 10, 2016
  • The National Gallery (London), February 17 to May 22, 2016
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Dombrowski, André. Cézanne, Murder, and Modern Life (Berkeley: University of California Press; Washington: The Phillips Collection, 2013) pp. 226-30, fig. 92.

Rey, Xavier. "Courbet, Cézanne: le nu en question." In Courbet / Cézanne: la vérité en peinture, exh. cat. Denis Coutagne, ed. (Ornans: Musée Gustave Courbet, with Fage éditions, 2013) pp. 94-95, fig. 7.

Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, Nina. "Cézanne in the Studio." In The World is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne, exh. cat. Benedict Leca, ed. (Hamilton: Art Gallery of Hamilton, with D Giles Limited, 2014), pp. 230, 231, 233n52, fig. 21.