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Art and Images in Psychiatry
February 2006

The House of the Hanged Man at Auvers

Author Affiliations


Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63(2):125-126. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.2.125

His work proves without doubt that painting is not—or not any longer—the art of imitating an object by lines and colors but of giving plastic form to our nature.—Gleizes and Metzinger1(p127)

On January 4, 1872, Marie-Hortense Ficquet, mistress of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), gave birth to a son, who was named Paul after his father.2 They had met several years earlier in Paris, and she had accompanied him to L’Estaque, near his family home in Aix-en-Provence. To avoid being drafted in the Franco-Prussian war, Cézanne lived in a house there that his mother had rented for him in 1870. Although his mother was aware of his relationship with Hortense, it was kept secret from his father, who was unlikely to agree to a marriage to a dowerless girl. Cézanne acknowledged his paternity, and his son's birth was officially registered just as his own birth had been registered 33 years earlier by his father, who did not wed his mother until several years after Cézanne's own birth. Cézanne was devoted to his son, shared his tenderness toward him in letters to Emile Zola, and maintained a close relationship with him throughout his lifetime. It was a very different relationship from his own with an authoritarian father.3