The Boy in the Red Vest

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The Boy in the Red Vest
Le Garçon au gilet rouge, par Paul Cézanne, FWN 496.jpg
ArtistPaul Cézanne
Year1889 or 1890
Dimensions80 cm × 64.5 cm (31.5 in × 25.4 in)
LocationFoundation E.G. Bührle

The Boy in the Red Vest (Le Garçon au gilet rouge), also known as The Boy in the Red Waistcoat,[1] is a painting (Venturi 681) by Paul Cézanne, painted in 1889 or 1890.[2] It is a fine example of Cézanne's skilled, nuanced, and innovative mature work after 1880.

Cézanne painted four oil portraits of this Italian boy in the red vest, all in different poses, which allowed him to study the relationship between the figure and space.[3] The most famous of the four, and the one commonly referred to by this title, is the one which depicts the boy in a melancholic seated pose with his elbow on a table and his head cradled in his hand. It is currently held in Zürich, Switzerland. The other three portraits, of different poses, are in museums in the US.[4]

The Foundation E.G. Bührle, which currently owns the work, notes the painting's picturesqueness, adding that "There is a perfect balance here of high compositional intelligence and spontaneous painterly intuition."[2] In 1895, art critic Gustave Geffroy said it could stand comparison with the finest figure paintings of the Old Masters.[2]

The colors of the painting are rich, dense, and festive. The composition is organized with three main diagonals: the angle of the boy's tilted back and head, the angle of the deep-green curtain behind the boy, and the long angle of the seat and table rising from the lower left. These three angles are countered by the angles of the boy's thighs and arms, creating a tightly articulated structure of intersecting diagonals.[2]

This painting was acquired from Cézanne by art dealer Ambroise Vollard, probably in 1895, and successively acquired by art collectors Marcell Nemes in 1909 and Gottlieb Reber in 1913. Art collector and patron Emil Georg Bührle purchased it from Beber in 1948. Following Bührle's death in 1956, his heirs donated the painting to the Foundation E.G. Bührle in 1960.[5]

In February 2008, the painting was stolen from the Foundation E.G. Bührle in Zurich.[6] It was the museum's most valuable painting and was valued at $91 million.[7] It was recovered in Serbia in April 2012.[4]


  1. ^ "Cezanne masterpiece believed recovered by Serbian police". Reuters. London: Guardian. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Foundation E.G. Bührle: The Boy in the Red Vest (1889/90)
  3. ^ "The Boy in the Red Vest". In: Cézanne. Random House, 2005. p. 130.
  4. ^ a b "Stolen Cezanne found by Serbian police". BBC News. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  5. ^ Paul Cézanne: Le Garçon au gilet rouge, ca. 1888/90. Oil on canvas, 79.5 x 64 cm. Rewald no. 658. Provenance. Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Reward for $180m Zurich art heist bandits". Herald Sun. 13 February 2008.
  7. ^ "2 Paintings Stolen From Zurich Museum Didn’t Get Far". New York Times, February 20, 2008

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