Portrait of Gustave Boyer (1840-1889), c. 1870-1871
oil on canvas
46.2 x 38.1 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4550)
As a teenager in Aix-en-Provence, Gustave Boyer (1840-1889) became close friends with Cézanne and the writer Émile Zola, his schoolmates at the Collège Bourbon. At the time Cézanne painted his portrait, Boyer had been in practice as a notary only a few years in Eyguières, a small wine- and oil-producing town forty kilometres west of Aix. Boyer likely provided the model for Pouillarde, the mischievous law student in Zola's novel "The Masterpiece" ("L'Oeuvre", 1886). Portrait painting played a crucial role in Cézanne's early development as a painter, and he usually chose family and friends as models. The fluid brushwork and darker tones of "Portrait of Gustave Boyer" reveal the influence of the Realist painter Édouard Manet, with whom Cézanne was on friendly terms by 1866.