Victor Chocquet (Primary Title)

Paul Cézanne, French, 1839 - 1906 (Artist)

ca. 1877
oil on canvas
Unframed: 13 7/8 × 10 3/4 in. (35.24 × 27.31 cm)
Framed: 17 1/2 × 14 1/8 × 2 1/2 in. (44.45 × 35.88 × 6.35 cm)

Early in his artistic career, Cézanne became associated with painters including Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, and Degas. He learned the theories and techniques of Impressionism from Pissarro and devoted himself to painting landscapes and still lifes before branching out into portraiture. Whereas the Impressionists attempted to replicate the natural effects of light, Cézanne emphasized chromatic effects and the underlying structures of his subjects. His canvases feature strong contrasts of light and dark tones along with a vigorous application of paint. The fervor that his painting expressed and its overriding concern with the formal aspects of the medium proved influential on many early 20th-century artists.

When Cézanne's works were presented at the 1877 Impressionist Exhibition, they were severely criticized and misunderstood. This portrait is the first commissioned work by the artist and demonstrates the sitter’s unique understanding of Cézanne's aesthetic commitments. Victor Choquet was a senior editor at the Directorate-General of Customs and Indirect Taxes and a connoisseur of the emergent movements in modern art. He passionately defended and avidly collected works by many Impressionists, but he was particularly enthusiastic about Cézanne's paintings and eventually purchased more than thirty. In this portrait, Cézanne creates luminous volumes using small brushstrokes enlivened by complementary reds and greens to depict his friend’s kindly features.

Not signed.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
2019-2020: "Van Gogh Monet Degas, The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", Palazzo Zabarella, Padua, Italy, October 26, 2019 - March 1, 2020

2019-2021: Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, February 2 - May 5, 2019; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS, April 4, 2020 - January 10, 2021

2018: "Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", The Frick Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, March 17 - July 15, 2018; Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 22 - September 22, 2019

Victor Chocquet: Art Collector and Friend of the Impressionists Renoir, Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur, Switzerland, February 20 - June 7, 2015

Cézanne and Twentieth-Century Italian Artists, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, October 4, 2013-February 2, 2014

The Private Collection of Edgar Degas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sep. 22, 1997-Jan. 11, 1998

Degas as Collector, National Gallery, London, May 22-Aug. 26, 1996

Degas, VMFA, May 23-July 9, 1978

Impressionistes, Galerie Beyer, Basel, Oct.-Nov. 18, 1967

Foundation Rudolphe Staechelin: de Corot à Picasso, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, April 10-June 28, 1964

Sammlung Rudolf Staechelin, Kunstmuseum, Basel, May 13-June 17, 1956

Cézanne, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, 1936

Französische Malerie, Kunsthalle, Bern, 1920 (1)

(1) only record of this exhibition is in Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, 1996
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.