Each month, explore the visionary art of Provence painters, and better understand how they interrogate our world, with an art history workshop.
This month, we’re exploring the Aix-en-Provence friendship of two celebrated painters, Paul Cézanne and Achille Emperaire.
The work is now well-known: the portrait of Achille Emperaire by Cézanne, housed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It dates from 1867-1868. Visitors can’t help but notice as they pass by: on a canvas two meters high, the painter shows a dwarf, hunchbacked, feet not touching the ground, sitting on a chair that resembles an emperor’s throne.
After the surprise, one sees an inscription on the top of the painting: “Achille Emperaire Painter.” Artistic hommage, and the hommage of a friend. The two painters met in Aix-en-Provence, before meeting again in Paris. They were separated by ten years in age. The older has been forgotten.
Achille Emperaire was passionate about Venitian and Flemish art, and particularly the female nude. Paul Cézanne is now famous around the world, but the influence of Achille Emperaire on his works has continued to interest art historians.