Lot 33
  • 33

Paul Cézanne

5,000,000 - 7,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Paul Cézanne
  • La femme à l'hermine, d'après Le Greco
  • Oil on canvas
  • 20 7/8 by 19 1/4 in.
  • 53 by 49 cm


Ambroise Vollard, Paris

Auguste Pellerin, Paris

Jean-Victor Pellerin, Paris

Wildenstein Galleries, Paris & New York

Acquired from the above circa 1960


Paris, Salon d'Automne, Grand Palais, 1907, no. 4

Paris, D'Après les maîtres, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, 1910, no. 42

Paris, Orangerie,Cézanne, 1936, no. 56

London, Wildenstein Galleries, 1939, no. 29

New York, The Sources of Modern Painting, Wildenstein Galleries, 1939, no. 7, illustrated

New York, Wildenstein Galleries, 1959, no. 21, illustrated


Ambroise Vollard Archives, photo no. 148 (annotated by Cézanne's son: Portrait de Mlle C., 1875; in another hand: 1878)

Ambroise Vollard Stockbook no. 3496[A] (titled, Une tête de femme avec un capuchon blanc, sur un fond bleu)

Maurice Denis, "Cézanne," L'Occident, September 1907, translated in English: Roger Fry, Burlington 16, no. 82, January 1910, pl. II

New York Times, July 6, 1913, mentioned p. 15

Maestri Moderni, Rome, 1920, illustrated

Julius Meier-Graefe, Cézanne und sein Kreis, Munich, 1922, illustrated p. 202

Max Friedländer, "über Paul Cézanne," Die Kunst, February 1922, illustrated p. 142

Fritz Burger, Cézanne und Hodler, Munich, 1923, illustrated pl. 61

Georges Rivière, Le Maître Paul Cézanne, Paris, 1923, p. 207, illustrated p. 19

Louis Vauxcelles, "A propos de Cézanne," Art Vivant, July 1926, illustrated p. 484

Julius Meier-Graefe, Paul Cézanne, translated in English: J. Holroyd-Reece, Cézanne, London, 1927, illustrated pl. LXXI

Kurt Pfister, Cézanne, Gestalt, Werk, Mythos, Potsdam, 1927, fig. 71, illustrated

Christian Zervos, "Idéalisme et naturalisme dans la peinture moderne, II. Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh," Cahiers d'Art, no. 10, Paris, 1927, illustrated p. 331

Alan Burroughs, "David and Cézanne, Presenting the Case of Thought versus Feeling," Arts 16, no. 1, New York. September 1929, illustrated p. 99

Fritz Neugass, Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, December 1931, illustrated p. 136
M. Peschcke-Koedt, "Statusopgorelse i Malerkunsten," Samleren, 1933, illustrated p. 187

Gerstle Mack, Paul Cézanne, New York, 1935, fig. 14, illustrated

Art Sacré, May 1936, illustrated p. 23

Eugenio d'Ors, Paul Cézanne, in English: E. Weyhe, New York, 1936, illustrated pl. 9

Maurice Raynal, Cézanne, Paris, 1936, illustrated pl. LXIX

John Rewald, "Une Copie par Cézanne d'après le Greco," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 6, no. 15, February 1936, illustrated pp. 118-121

Lionello Venturi, Cézanne, son art, son oeuvre, vol. I, Paris, 1936, no. 376, p. 147; vol. II, illustrated pl. 103

Giorgio di San Lazzaro, Paul Cézanne, Paris, 1938, fig. 9, illustrated

Art News, New York, April 29, 1939, illustrated p. 11

Raymond Cogniat, Cézanne, Paris, 1939, illustrated pl. 42

Georges Rivière, Cézanne, Le Peintre solitaire, Paris, 1942, illustrated p. 67

Liliane Guerry, "Le Problème de l'équilibre spatial dans les portraits Cézanniens de la période constructive," Études d'Art, no. 2, Paris, 1946, fig. 2, illustrated

Bernard Dorival, Cézanne, Paris, 1948, illustrate pl. III

Gotthard Jedlicka, Cézanne, Bern, 1948, fig. 22, illustrated

J. Camon Aznar, Dominico Greco, vol. II, Madrid, 1950, illustrated p. 1082

C. F. Ramuz, Cézanne Formes, Lausanne, 1968, fig. 12, illustrated

Meyer Schapiro, Paul Cézanne, translated by Louis-Marie Ollivier, Paris, 1973, illustrated pl. 13

R. Benjamin, "Recovering Authors: the Modern Copy, Copy Exhibitions and Matisse," Art History, June 1989, pp. 188-189, figs. 49 and 50, illustrate  (with Laurens's engraving after El Greco)

John Rewald, Cézanne and America, Dealers, Collectors, Artists and Critics, 1891-1921, London and Princeton, 1989, p. 219, fig. 110

John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, vol. I, New York, 1996, no. 568, p. 381; vol. II, illustrated p. 187


Very good condition over all. The canvas is lined. The triangular addition of painted canvas has been incorporated into the lining in order to "square off" this corner of the picture; this addition is presumed to have been done by Cézanne, given its general nature. Under UV light, there are 4 small retouches in the background to the left of the forehead and 2 or 3 other small restorations in the center of the left background near the edge. Some small retouches are visible in the scarf below the chin and one in white fur stole on the left side, the coat between the two sides of the stole and above the hand. There is a very thin line of restoration which interrupts the index finger which is outlined, but not actually painted in. All of these retouches are concise and confined only to small losses. There are no retouches in the face and the right background and the composition is in a very healthy state.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The model for La femme à l’hermine was at first identified by Cézanne’s son as his aunt, Marie Cézanne, but the composition itself is directly related to El Greco's Lady in a Fur Wrap from the 1570s. Cézanne never saw this painting in person, but he would have seen at least one of two illustrations of prints done after the El Greco picture in contemporary publications. One, an engraving reproduced in Charles Blanc’s Ecole Espagnole of 1869, is closer to the work by El Greco, but Cézanne is known to have used another plate from the same publication for his painting of Le Christ aux limbes. The other illustration, a woodcut by J.B. Laurens (fig. 2), was shown in an 1860 issue of Le Magasin Pittoresque, a publication also familiar to Cézanne. This illustration indeed shares more similarities with Cézanne’s interpretation of El Greco’s painting, thus illuminating Cézanne’s connection to the original old master work.

The influence of Spanish masters on the evolution of French modernism dates to the first half of the nineteenth century. The striking image of El Greco’s Lady in a Fur Wrap was exhibited in Paris at the Galerie Espagnole in the Louvre from 1836-48. It, as well as the other works on view by artists such as Velásquez and Goya, had an impact on Paris which Baudelaire observed in 1846, “The Spanish Museum had the effect of increasing the volume of general ideas that you had to have about art… a museum of foreign art is an international place of fellowship, where two peoples, observing and studying each other…come to know each other” (Charles Baudelaire (Francis Moulinat, ed.), Écrits  sur l’art, Paris, 1992, p. 73).

Conversations arose in the early 1900s regarding Cézanne’s connection to El Greco as well as Tintoretto. German art critic Julius Meier-Graefe, who partly initiated a rediscovery of El Greco, saw Cézanne’s portrait at Vollard’s in Paris. He noted the influence on modern artists like Cézanne: “He [El Greco] has discovered a realm of new possibilities. Not even he, himself, was able to exhaust them. All the generations that follow after him live in his realm. There is a greater difference between him and Titian, his master, than between him and Renoir or Cézanne. Nevertheless, Renoir and Cézanne are masters of impeccable originality because it is not possible to avail yourself of El Greco's language, if in using it, it is not invented again and again, by the user” (J. Meier-Graefe. The Spanish Journey, translated from German by J. Holroyd-Reece, London, 1926, p. 458).

John Rewald writes on Cézanne’s interpretation of El Greco’s painting: “On various other occasions, Cézanne had used similar, often awkward black and white illustrations as sources for paintings in which he was free to ‘invent’ the colors. In the present work, the artist has chosen his own colors for the portrait, departing completely from those in the painting by El Greco” (J. Rewald, op. cit., vol. I, p. 381). La femme à l’hermine is composed of multiple tonalities of blue and green, complemented by rose, peach, and gray hues.

Modern masters Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti were particularly influenced by El Greco and Cézanne. Picasso, who reinvented several works by El Greco and Velásquez, also took Cézanne’s irregular outlines into his own Blue Period portraits in which fluctuating lines make out frail, delicate figures of a similar blue and green color palette (fig. 3). Only a few years later would Picasso turn Cézanne’s patchy strokes of color into geometric planes in his Cubist compositions. Giacometti believed “Each artist sees reality through the works of the past” (quoted in Cecilia Braschi, “Dessiner: le cas des ‘Copies du passé,’” L’atelier d’Alberto Giacometti, Collection de la Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2007 p. 231). Creating many drawings after old master works and several after works by Cézanne, he sketched versions of both El Greco’s and Cézanne’s portraits of the woman with an ermine shawl (fig. 4). Giacometti’s coarsely-drawn figures echo Cézanne’s outlines, exposing its most basic elements, and again rediscovering this influential composition.