GUY-PIERRE FAUCONNET (1882 – 1920 Paris)

Hommage à Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906 Aix en Provence)

Oil on canvas, in original frame
21 ¾ × 18 inches (55.2 × 45.7 cm)

Annotated Fauconnet August 04 on original stretcher

Guy-Pierre Fauconnet was highly regarded in French modernist artistic circles in the early twentieth century. He was especially admired for his draftsmanship by contemporaries such as André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Roger de La Fresnaye, and André Lhote. This portrait of Paul Cézanne, which is dated two years before the death of the master, is emblematic of Cézanne’s generosity to the many young artists who made the pilgrimage to visit him in Aix-en-Provence. After 1910 Fauconnet’s career evolved into a position as grand décorateur  for modernist theater and dance, which was so essential to French avant-garde performance during the first two decades of the twentieth century. As recorded by Barbara Kelly, the composer Darius Milhaud recalled in an unpublished article, “Musique et danse”:

It was the beginning of the Groupe des Six. We had developed the habit of dining together every Saturday. In addition to the six musicians (Auric, Durey, Honegger, Poulenc, Germaine Tailleferre and me), writers such as Jean Cocteau, Raymond Radiguet, Paul Morand, Lucien Daudet, painters such as PICASSO, Guy-Pierre FAUCONNET, Roger de FRESNAY, Raoul DUFY, Jean Victor HUGO, the singer KOUBITZKY, the pianist Juliette MEROVICH [sic], came to my place before dinner. Paul MORAND made the cocktails. We played the works we had composed in the week. POULENC sang his Cocardes, AURIC had just written his fox trot: Adieu New York, AURIC and I played the four-hand version of Le Boeuf sur le toit. After dinner, which took place in a little restaurant in Montmartre, we went as a group to the fair or the Medrano circus. The aesthetic of the music-hall was in full vogue and we loved the sketches of the famous Medrano clowns, the three FRATELLINI.

Kelly observes, “This is a clear instance of the night life of the young composers, Cocteau and their circle directly inspiring their artistic collaborations: at Cocteau’s instigation the Fratellini clowns became the subject and participants of the ballet Le Boeuf sur le toit. The collaboration also involved the artist G. P. Fauconnet and, on his sudden death, Raoul Dufy. . .”

Theodore Reff has kindly confirmed the identity of the sitter.

Barbara L. Kelly, Music and Ultra-modernism in France: A Fragile Consensus, 1913-1939, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Boydell Press, 2013, pp. 184-18