The first exhibition devoted entirely to portraits by Paul Cézanne will be mounted at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Cézanne Portraits will bring together for the first time over 50 of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world, including works never before on public display in the UK.
Portraits previously unseen in the UK include the artist’s arresting Self Portrait in a Bowler Hat (1885-6) on loan from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek gallery in Copenhagen. Also on UK display for the first time since the 1930s will be Boy in a Red Waistcoat (1888-90), one of a series of paintings of a young man in Italian clothes identified as Michelangelo de Rosa, from the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair (1888-90) on loan from The Art Institute of Chicago, last exhibited in London in 1936 and 1939 respectively.
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) painted almost 200 portraits during his career, including 26 of himself and 29 of his wife, Hortense Fiquet. Cézanne Portraits will explore the special pictorial and thematic characteristics of Cézanne’s portraiture, including his creation of complementary pairs and multiple versions of the same subject. The chronological development of Cézanne’s portraiture will be considered, with an examination of the changes that occurred with respect to his style and method, and his understanding of resemblance and identity. The exhibition will also discuss the extent to which particular sitters inflected the characteristics and development of his practice.
Works included in the exhibition will range from Cezanne’s remarkable portraits of his Uncle Dominique, dating from the 1860s, through to his final portraits of Vallier, who helped Cézanne in his garden and studio at Les Lauves, Aix-en-Provence, made shortly before the artist’s death in 1906. The paintings are drawn from museums and private collections in Brazil, Denmark, France, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Cézanne is widely understood to be one of the most influential artists of the nineteenth century. Generally categorised as a Post-Impressionist, his unique method of building form with colour, and his analytical approach to nature influenced the art of Cubists, Fauvists, and successive generations of avant-garde artists. Both Matisse and Picasso called Cézanne ‘the father of us all.’
Cézanne Portraits is curated by John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where he has organised numerous exhibitions, including major retrospectives devoted to Willem de Kooning, Henri Matisse, and Kurt Schwitters; with Mary Morton, Curator and Head of Department, French Paintings, National Gallery of Art and Xavier Rey, Director of Collections, Musée d’Orsay.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. It will be staged at all three venues, opening at the Musée d’Orsay from 13 June 2017 – 24 September 2017, the National Portrait Gallery from 26 October 2017 – 11 February 2018, and the National Gallery of Art from 25 March – 1 July 2018.