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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Study of a plaster Cupid, c.1890 Graphite

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1885-1895
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 505 millimetres
    • Width: 322 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    A study of a plaster cast that Cézanne owned and then regarded as being after Pierre Puget, but now regarded as being of uncertain authorship (illustrated Chappuis 1973, I, fig. 117, p. 228). The cast after a now untraced sculpture was used as a prop in two still-life paintings of c. 1894-95 by Cézanne, one in in the Courtauld Institute, London and the other in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, L. Venturi, 'Cézanne, son art-son oeuvre', Paris, 1936, nos. 706-707; illustrated in colour in 1996 exhibition catalogue nos. 161-2. It is the subject of eleven drawings initiated in the mid-1870s, see Chappuis 980bis-989, pp. 227-229.

    Lit.: A. Chappuis, 'The Drawings of Paul Cézanne: a Catalogue Raisonné', London, 1973, no. 988, II, fig. 988 (with previous literature); I. Cahn, in exhib. cat., Paris, Grand Palais, London, Tate and Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 'Cézanne', 1996, no. 163; P. Stein, in, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and London, BM, 'French Drawings from Clouet to Seurat', 2005, no. 89; I. Seligman, 'Lines of Thought', London, 2016, no. 31, p. 70.

    (Entry from 'French Drawings from Clouet to Seurat' exhibition):

    Drawings after sculpture form an important part of Cezanne's graphic oeuvre, accounting for perhaps one fifth of his extant sheets. For Cezanne statues had various advantages over live or painted models: they allowed a sustained study of the motif from various angles and through multiple visits over time and were without psychological complication. He was a regular visitor to the Louvre, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Musée de Sculpture Comparée in the Trocadéro, copying both original marbles and plaster casts. His sources were diverse, ranging from the antique to the Renaissance and works of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Judging from the number of copies he drew, his favourite sculptor was his fellow Provençal, Pierre Puget (1602-94). Cézanne wrote to his friend Joachim Gasquet that when he felt homesick in Paris, he would go see the Pugets in the Louvre because they had been 'washed over by the mistral', the strong winter wind of Provence and the Rhône valley.(n.1)

    In addition to the works he sketched on his museum expeditions, Cézanne owned at least two small plaster casts, both of which he drew frequently. One was an écorché, a flayed figure used by artists to study musculature, after a work attributed to Michelangelo in Cezanne's time.(n.2) The second, an armless cupid,(n.3) is the subject of canvases at the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, and the Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, as well as four watercolours and ten drawings, in addition to the BM sheet.4 Although the attribution is debated today,(n.5) Cézanne considered his plaster cupid to be after a work by Puget.

    Cézanne began making studies of the plaster cupid in the mid-1870s and continued throughout his life, leaving no angle unexplored. He seems to have been attracted both to the lumpy musculature and the dynamic quality of the striding pose and twisting torso, producing an arc-shaped contour. The vantage point chosen for the London drawing emphasizes this long curve and even leaves off the right leg entirely. In viewpoint, it is closest to the cupid in the Stockholm painting(n.6) and is likewise lit from the left, but should not be considered preparatory in any strict sense as Cézanne would no doubt have painted directly from his statue with no need for recourse to drawn studies. In the drawings, many of which, like the London sheet, are fully life-size,(n.7) he explored the graphic means of rendering three-dimensional form. Rather than continuous contour, he conveyed mass through bundled strokes and patches of hatching, comparable to the strokes that built up form in his oil paintings.

    Text by P. Stein, 2005 as cited above.

    1 Quoted in F. Cachin et al.,, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris - Philadelphia Museum of Art, `Cézanne`, 1995, p.240, under no.81.
    2 See e.g. ibid., pp.292-3, no.111.
    3 The cast survives today in Cezanne's studio at Les Lauves and is illustrated in Chappuis, 1973, op.cit., I, p.228, fig.117.
    4 See F. Cachin, 1995, op.cit., pp.388-96, nos 161-5, and p.396 notes 11 and 31, and Chappuis, 1973, I, pp.227 ff., nos 980 bis-990. For two sketches in oil, see J. Rewald, 'The Paintings of Paul Cezanne: A Catalogue Raisonne`, New York, 1996, I, pp. 472-3, nos 783-4.
    5 The names François Duquesnoy (1594-1643) and Nicolas Coustou (1658-1733) have also been put forward. See F. Cachin, 1995, op.cit., pp.389, 396 notes 9 and 10.
    6 F. Cachin, 1995, op.cit., pp.388-93, no.161.
    7 Ibid., p.396 note 20 gives the height of the plaster as 46 cm.


  • Bibliography

    • Stein 2005 89 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (French Imp XIXc)

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited 1965, Arts Council Gallery, NACF exhibition, 'Sixty Years of Patronage' 1978 Oct-Dec, Tubingen, Kunsthalle, 'Cézanne's Drawings', no.179 1984, BM, 'Master Drawings & Watercolours', no.147 1988/9 Dec-Jan, London, Sotheby's, 'Monet to Freud', no.56 1991 Sep-Nov, Bristol Art Gallery, 'Primacy of Drawings', no.18 1991 Nov-Dec, Stoke on Trent Art Gallery, 'Primacy of Drawings', no.18 1992 Jan-Feb, Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, 'Primacy of Drawings', no.18 1995/6 Sep-Jan, Paris, Grand Palais, 'Cézanne' no.163 1996 Feb-April, London, Tate Gallery, 'Cézanne' no.163 1996 May-Aug, Philadelphia Museum, USA, 'Cézanne', no. 1997/8 Oct-Jan, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 'Cézanne', no. 1998/9 Nov-Feb, Sydney, Art Gallery of NSW, 'The Classic Cézanne' 2003/4 Oct-Jan, London, Hayward, Saved!100 Years of the NACF, no.48 2005/6 Nov-Jan, New York, Met Mus of Art, Clouet to Seurat/BM, no. 89 2006 June-Oct, BM, Clouet to Seurat/BM, no. 89
    2016 3 Sep - 6 Nov, Poole Museum, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 31
    2017 1 Jan - 25 Feb, The Brynmor Jones Library Art Gallery, University of Hull, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 31
    2017 12 Mar - 5 May, Ulster Museum, Belfast, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 31
    2017 May - Sep, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 31
    2017-2018 Oct - Jan, RISD Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 'Lines of thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to now', no. 31

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Acquired by the NACF from Reid & Lefevre for £120 for presentation to the BM. We are grateful to the Lefevre gallery for granting us permission to consult their archive, and to Emma at Tate Archive for looking through the uncatalogued papers and finding two records of Reid & Lefevre's purchase of the drawing (described as 'L'Amour en platre') from Halvorsen in 1935 (see email of March 2016 in dossier).

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


Study from a plaster cast of a statuette of Cupid ascribed to Pierre Puget.  c.1890 Graphite


Study from a plaster cast of a statuette of Cupid ascribed to Pierre Puget. c.1890 Graphite

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