Cezanne’s Mystery Woman


What does a genius painter reach for when drafting a love letter? Why, the back of one of his canvases, of course. Who has time to look for paper when you are this tormented by love?

I saw you, and you let me kiss you, from that moment I have had no peace from profound turmoil. You will forgive the liberty that a soul tormented by anxiety takes in writing to you. I do not know how to describe to you that liberty that you may find so great, but how could I remain oppressed by this dejection? Is it not better to give expression to an emotion than to conceal it?

It’s the painter’s only known love letter, written when Cezanne was 46. And we know nothing about the woman except her effect on Cezanne.

Maria Popova has more of the fragmentary story.

Image Credit: Still Life with Bottle and Apple Basket, Paul Cezanne (1894)


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