Cézanne is widely understood to be one of the most influential artists of the nineteenth century; both Matisse and Picasso called Cézanne ‘the father of us all.' This exciting exhibition showcases more than fifty of Cézanne’s portraits together for the first time, some of which have never been displayed in the UK before. As Curator of the exhibition, I am delighted that it will soon open to the public in London.
The exhibition explores the special pictorial and thematic characteristics of Cézanne's portraiture, including his creation of complementary pairs and multiple versions of the same subject.
Unlike most of his avant-garde peers, Cézanne never received a portrait commission, and many of his painted likenesses of friends and family members offer little information in the way of his sitters’ individual personas, stature, or psychology.
Even in the age of Impressionism, when the popularity of the inexpensive, photographic portrait encouraged painters to adopt more informal and expressive means in their portraits or to reveal penetrating insights into their subjects, the Provençal artist defied expectations. He may not have explored portraiture’s revelations of others, but these works tell us a great deal about him.
More than his landscapes and still lifes, Cézanne’s portraits serve as markers or milestones in his long and prolific career, allowing us to ponder the key developments in his painting process and of his understanding of what portraiture can achieve. Cézanne’s portraits not only invite us into the world he knew; they also allow us to contemplate the continuing inventiveness of the artist at work.
Discover it for yourself, when the exhibition opens 26 October 2017, until 11 February 2018. Book your tickets here.
Top left: Boy in a Red Waistcoat by Paul Cézanne, 1888-90. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1995.47.5
Bottom left: Self Portrait with Bowler Hatby Paul Cézanne, 1885-86. NY Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Photograph: Ole Haupt
Bottom right: Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair by Paul Cezanne, 1877. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bequest of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd.