Paul Cézanne’s Portrait of Achille Emperaire is a painting created in 1867-68 that depicts his close companion, Achille Emperaire. Despite his sickliness and deformed body, the painting refrains from caricaturing Emperaire. The dark color scheme, mostly consisting of black, browns, and grays highlights Emperaire’s elongated hands and smile as he sits in a chair.
The monumental format with the frontal view amplifies the portrait’s presence by emphasizing its subject. Cézanne met Emperaire at the Académie Suisse in the early 1860s, where both trained to become painters. This portrait showcases their friendship as it portrays an evocative and ardent portrayal of his fellow painter.
Although a dwarf and hunch-backed due to tubercular arthritis, Emperaire lived in extreme poverty throughout his life and remained unrecognized during it until this artwork came to be appreciated posthumously as one of the most beloved works by Cézanne at Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Overall this painting is not only significant in terms of art history but also for its contribution towards enhancing our understanding of human suffering through aesthetics.