Paul Cezanne Blog

Cezanne painting breaks all records

Feb 15 2012 09:10PM | by Staff Editor

Whoa – one royal family seriously has too much money. In case you missed the headlines at the start of the month, the Qatari royal family broke ALL records for the most expensive oil painting when it paid a whopping USD $250 million for one of five existing versions of Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players. Let that marinate in your mind for a bit – that’s USD$250 million! The previous record was held by Jackspm Pollock’s Number 5, which sold for a now comparatively puny sum of USD $140 million. It almost seems just too much money to pay for an oil on canvas creation, or does it? The Cezanne oil painting came onto the market from the sale of the estate of Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos, who was known for his extensive oil painting collection. Previously, this version was rarely seen in public as Embiricos was a very private collector. However, the authenticity and provenance of the work is without question: the first time the Cezanne card series was mentioned was way back in 1891 when a writer named Paul Alexis visited Aix-en-Provence and observed Cezanne painting an actual scene from the card players. Among the more enlightening... Read more

Celebrating Cézanne at 173

Jan 22 2012 10:11PM | by Staff Editor

Last week fans of the post-Impressionist master Paul Cézanne may have noted that the 19th of January marked the artist’s 173rd birthday. Now a year ago Cézanne was being honoured with a personalised Google Doodle on Google’s home page, joining the likes of Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Edvard Munch, René Magritte, Frida Kahlo and most recently Diego Rivera, as a seminal figure in art history to be publicly recognised by the search giant. Well, he may not have received the same level of media attention this year (aside from a Cézanne birthday quiz on the Huffington Post), but that doesn’t mean that Cézannes big 173rd has to go unnoticed by art lovers, with exhibitions featuring his work currently taking place at museums and galleries around the world. As we’ve previously mentioned on this blog, there is currently a fantastic exhibition taking place at the Musée de Luxembourg in Paris, which focuses on Cézanne’s time in the French capital and the richness of the connection between the artist and the city. Appropriately titled Cézanne And Paris, the show features 80 artworks divided between five separate sections – Following Zola to Paris; Paris, the City beyond the walls, near Auvers; The... Read more

Cézanne’s Doubt

Jan 10 2012 05:09PM | by Staff Editor

What links French post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne with phenomenological philosophy? The answer is Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Just in case you’re not familiar with Merleau-Ponty or if you haven’t read any of his work, we’ll go over a little information about his background. Merleau-Ponty was a French philosopher who lived between 1908 and 1961 and who was strongly influenced by Karl Marx, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. He was closely associated with contemporaries like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and is renowned for his contributions to existentialism and phenomenological philosophy, which emphasises the study of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness. So what does all this have to do with Cézanne? Well, in 1945 Merleau-Ponty wrote and published an essay about Cézanne titled Cézanne’s Doubt, in which he analysed Cézanne’s stylistic approach to painting as well as his beliefs about how to paint. The essay begins by covering various aspects of Cézanne’s character and temperament. It discusses the fact that Cézanne would obsess over his works – a still life would take him 100 sessions to complete, a portrait would take him 150 sessions and he would sometimes take hours to place even a single brushstroke on his... Read more

L’Estaque, Melting Snow

Dec 27 2011 02:01PM | by Staff Editor

As the weather gets colder and as the winter months close in (for those of you in the northern hemisphere at least), we thought we would take a closer look at one of Paul Cézanne’s most famous landscape paintings, L’Estaque, Melting Snow. The oil on canvas work is one of only two winter scenes that Cézanne painted during the course of his career, and the painting’s theme, content and execution have been described as being representational of Cézanne’s feelings and political views at the time. In order to properly understand how those feelings and views are manifest on the canvas, it is important to understand the circumstances that surrounded the painting’s creation. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in July of 1870, Cézanne fled from Paris with his then mistress Marie-Hortense Fiquet - they had first travelled to Aix-en-Provence before eventually settling in the fishing village of L’Estaque to the west of Marseille. The village of L’Estaque eventually became popularised amongst artists by the Impressionist Movement and the village, the surrounding fields, the road leading to the village as well as the coastal bay can all be seen in works by various Impressionist painters. Cézanne would go on to work... Read more

Cézanne, Rejection and Opportunity

Dec 25 2011 09:45PM | by Staff Editor

For French post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne, early rejections from the artistic mainstream of the day may have helped to mould him into the genius that straddled Impressionism and Cubism, and who would eventually being described by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso as “… the father of us all”. As it was for much of the 19th Century and early 20th Century, Paris was the centre of the art world in the 1860s when Cézanne was an emerging artist. He had recently moved to Paris and struck up a friendship with Camille Pissarro, who was to be a significant influence on the work of a young Cézanne. As painters, sculptors, writers, poets, musicians and their various muses all mixed together, new artistic movements and styles were constantly emerging and struggling to gain credibility and prominence. At the centre of this creative melange was the Salon de Paris, more commonly referred to simply as the Salon. Its origins can be traced back to 1674, and during the period from 1748 and 1890 the Salon, which took place annually or biannually in Paris, became the final word as to what was in vogue. The Salon had originally started life as a semi-public exhibition for... Read more

Cezanne and the icons of Modernism

Nov 27 2011 07:07PM | by Staff Editor

Modernism as an art movement exploded in the years 1910 to 1930. Continental Europe on the cusp of World War I was bubbling with social unease and tension: just five years ago the Russian Revolution of 1905 had sparked the hope of communism worldwide; this social angst naturally came to be represented in visual art. At the forefront of change were artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, who were shocking the art world with their radical paintings, such as Demoiselles d’Avignon painted in 1907. Kandinsky, the father of abstract art, also joined the fray, with his 1911 oil painting Bild mit Kreis (Picture With a Circle) now hailed as the first abstract painting. All these painters were undoubtedly crucial to the visual form of Modernism; even more so was Paul Cezanne, who Matisse and Picasso both hailed as their artistic father. The importance of Cezanne to Modernism is explored in the Art Gallery of Alberta’s headline 2012 exhibition, Icons of Modernism, on show in Canada from February until May. As well as social and political changes, the revolution in visual art was also fuelled by the revolution in the scientific world: faster trains, airplanes and cars were invented... Read more

Cezanne paintings and Paris – love & hate

Nov 20 2011 11:40AM | by Staff Editor

Paul Cézanne has been labelled, and inspired the labels of, many things for his gargantuan contribution to modern art: the French Post-Impressionist painter has a university named after him, a prestigious art award and many other smaller buildings, museums and namesakes. He is credited with broaching the path from traditional 19th century norms of art to the bold and brash 20th century, which included movements such as Cubism and Abstraction. Picasso and Matisse both said Cezanne was their artistic father – a claim that critics widely agree to. Much of Cezanne’s artwork is centred on his native area of Provence, France, but the capital Paris also had a significant, if not under examined impact, on the artist. That is, under examined until now, with a new exhibition at the Musee Du Luxembourg looking to shed light on the subject. Titled Cezanne and Paris (curator is director of the Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris, Gilles Chazal, with scientific committee members comprising of president of the Paul Cézanne society Denis Coutagne and Maryline Assante di Panzillo, curator of the painting department, Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris, from October 12 to... Read more

John Rewald, Paul Cezanne and the history of a genius

Oct 30 2011 10:32AM | by Staff Editor

Only the true Paul Cezanne buffs among our readership would respond in the affirmative when quizzed about their recognition of John Rewald. John who? The Baptist? Hah, not quite, but in many ways he played a similar role in the popularisation of someone to come after him. Rewald, who lived from 1912-1994, is most well known for his trailblazing scholarship of Cezanne. His journey started when he was a graduate student in France. On a random trip to Provence, Cezanne’s home town, he became entranced by the artist, his life and fine artwork. Inspired, he decided to devote his doctorate to his study; his fellow academic partner, Léo Marschutz, a German painter at the time, joined Rewald in documenting all the places that Cezanne featured in his oil paintings. The photographs and journal of records they kept are considered priceless as the countryside has changed, allowing scholars to have a permanent record to compare and contrast Cezanne oil paintings. Rewald literally devoted his life to collecting any archival and primary documentation that related to Cezanne, in the process creating the most comprehensive reference library on the painter. Most of his work is now located in the National Gallery of Art,... Read more

Cézanne and his card players

Oct 18 2011 09:30AM | by Staff Editor

If you’re ever in an art trivia competition and the next question is “for what series of oil paintings is Paul Cezanne generally most well known for”, the answer is card players. Lock that one in for the five oil paintings and dozens of associated sketching and preparatory paintings. However, just one cursory examination and one might be forgiven for thinking exactly why they are considered masterpieces of modern art. The series of five oil paintings are quite simple in appearance, and for the large part, focus on a rather boring activity by today’s standards – playing cards or smoking a pipe. Devote just five to 10 more minutes of your time to reading the rest of this blog and you’ll find out just why they are so critically acclaimed. As with many of the modern era painters, Cezanne approached the subject of card playing from a radically new perspective. Card playing was only previously represented as an activity for drunkards in pubs and taverns; Cezanne introduced the every day, honest, hard working man – the peasants. In all of the oil paintings the peasants – still exclusively men – are sober and serious in demeanour. The Card Player oil... Read more

Cezanne painting to stay with MET

Oct 02 2011 11:31AM | by Staff Editor

When is appropriation not appropriation? Oh dear. The global news media has recently been awash with stories of successful legal challenges by heirs of former owners of well-known paintings. But for any future people thinking of challenging someone’s claim over any canvas artwork, a longstanding legal precedent exists in the United States pertaining to the “act of state” doctrine. That is, under that doctrine, any acts of states of a sovereign government are deemed legitimate and official acts by U.S. courts. That precedent has recently stopped one man from claiming a Cezanne painting, Portrait of Madame Cezanne (1891), from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The case begins nearly 100 years ago in Bolshevik Russia, where in 1918 a certain Ivan Morozov had his private property nationalised as part of the Russian Revolution. Today, Mr Morozov’s great-grandson, Pierre Konowaloff, submitted the lawsuit framing the act of nationalisation, and the subsequent seizure of the Cezanne painting, as a move undertaken “by force and without compensation”. The subsequent sale of the oil painting by the Soviet Union was therefore illegal; art collector Stephen C. Clark bought the painting in 1933, and bequeathed the Cezanne painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in... Read more

A 20-year wait for a Cezanne oil painting of pitcher and fruits

Sep 18 2011 06:38PM | by Staff Editor

You leave for a weekend trip one day and return to find that a thief had broken into your house and stolen seven oil paintings. That was back in 1978, though, so fast forward twenty years and you’ve just realised that you may have a chance to recover your beloved Cezanne painting, provided international governments cooperate and an entrapment snare works to catch the thieves behind the crime. Think you’ve heard and seen it all before? This real life story has many themes and threads found in Hollywood blockbusters, except that it was real. The protagonists in this story are Michael Bakwin and his wife, who left their Stockbridge house in Massachusetts, United States of America, for a trip on the Memorial Day weekend in 1978. When they returned they found that seven oil paintings had been stolen, including the Cezanne painting, Bouilloire et fruits (Pewter pitcher and fruit). The painting is particularly famous within Cezanne’s broad range of artwork. Completed from 1888-90, it represented the best of Cézanne oil paintings of the still life gengre. Art critics have noted the painting’s refined investigations of space and form that can only be found in his mature style. The oil painting... Read more

Paul Cézanne and the Pyramid of Skulls

Sep 04 2011 09:14PM | by Staff Editor

“For me, life has begun to be deathly monotonous”; “…As for me, I’m old. I won’t have time to express myself” – Paul Cézanne, on growing old. Artists tend to be moody lot, if you haven’t noticed that already. Depression, self-loathing, world weariness, jealousy, angst and anger are all emotions easily identifiable with the destructive but brilliant painter. Paul Cézanne, on balance, was quite balanced for a modernist painter. Approaching old life, however, he grew increasingly sad and depressed about getting old. It’s a pity he didn’t live in today’s age – he could have popped some Viagra pills and taken a page out of Hugh Hefner’s book, for example. Alas, Cezanne lived in a different age so he had to settle for human skulls. Pyramid of Skulls is an acclaimed oil painting by French Post-Impressionist maestro, Paul Cézanne. The oil painting depicts its title quite literally: there are four human skulls stacked in a pyramid shape; the skulls themselves are painted in soft light, contrasted against the dark and foreboding background. Art critics have praised the oil painting as a singular exception throughout Cézanne’s wide oeuvre: in no other work did Cézanne lay his items so close to the... Read more

Moving a Cezanne, among billions worth of art

Aug 07 2011 10:14PM | by Staff Editor

It’s no secret that Paul Cézanne paintings look spectacular, and also attract an equally spectacular price. What would you do then, if you found yourself the owner of 69 original works, all of which had to be moved to a new location? Freak out at the possibility of a major theft? Double freak out over the insurance cost needed to cover such a move? This, and a host of other questions, recently confronted the Barnes Foundation when it decided to close its doors in July this year and move all their art, including the 69 Cezannes, to a new building in downtown Philadelphia, U.S.A. So what made Cezanne so attractive to chemist Albert Barnes, the combative chemist who accumulated what is known as the largest Impressionist and Post Impressionist art collection in the world? The star Cezanne oil paintings of the collection is “The Card Players”. Art aficionados will know that five versions of “The Card Players” in the world exist, but the largest and best resides in the Barnes’ collection. Another standout Cezanne oil painting is “The Big Bathers”, one of the largest in a series of paintings depicting bathers. Not to be confused with “Large Bathers”, which is... Read more

Modern elixirs of fine art

Jul 24 2011 09:53PM | by Staff Editor

He has the look: tousled silvery hair, like a wild fog breaking over his plump, pink face. His eyes and lips are curled and creased in an ever-present smile. He is Alexander Melamid, Russian-born conceptual artist and founder of the Art Healing Ministry – a place where fine art is the only medicine. Fatigued? Have you tried projecting works of Andy Warhol and Jan Vermeer on your belly? Just make sure they are great masterpieces, or the treatment may not work, according to Melamid. We’ve all seen the ubiquitous vitamin water in stores everywhere, but what about water infused with art? The Art Healing Ministry offers ‘Water-Chargers’ – canisters that have quality reproductions of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and others inside. Once filled with water, the canister should be kept in a cool, dark place for 72-hours for ideal concentration before consumption. The Art Healing Ministry boasts treatments for all sorts of ailments: bulimia nervosa, angioedema, urticaria, and all kinds of impressive sounding medical terms that Melamid, though not a doctor, really enjoys saying. For anxiety, he recommends Paul Cezanne. However, going to a museum and surrounding oneself with Cezanne paintings will not work. Melamid equates this with taking too... Read more

A historical look at the theft of Cezanne paintings

Jul 11 2011 12:03PM | by Staff Editor

French painter Paul Cezanne was never quite as popular during his life than after it: since his death his works have constantly increased in value, and accordingly, so have thefts of his paintings. We decided to give you a short take of the history of major thefts of Cezanne artworks. August 13, 1961Eight paintings were stolen from an exhibition of Cezanne paintings in his hometown of Aix-en-Provence in southern France. They were being exhibited at the Vendome Pavilion and were collectively estimated at US $2 million (that was a lot back then!). The stolen oil paintings were The Card Players, a still life of a leg of mutton, a still life of a teapot, landscape of Aix, Water Reflections or Reflections in the Water, Seated Peasant and The Skulls. Police recovered the paintings a year later in 1962 in a parked car in a street in Marseille. Police initially suspected the car was used for some sort of crime after a check discovered it had false licence plates. They observed it for one day hoping someone would return for the stolen paintings, which were sitting in the back seat. No one ever did. December 27, 1978Three Cezanne paintings valued about... Read more

Paul Cezanne and the Art of the Still-Life

May 24 2011 11:16AM | by Staff Editor

When experts discuss how one person can influence the course of painting, they often discuss the Paul Cezanne still-life paintings. It can be difficult for modern viewers to grasp how truly revolutionary these paintings are, since they seem to be simple paintings of inanimate objects. The still life by Cezanne is so much more, however. The medium allows the artist to discuss mortality and fertility, while he takes revolutionary strides in painting techniques. Still-life painting has been in use nearly since painting began. Artists have total and complete control over the medium, which might partially explain the appeal. An artist can choose what, exactly, to include in the painting. Ripe fruit could stand in for fertility. Rotting fruit or wilting flowers could stand in for aging or death. Books and papers could indicate the artist's education. Cezanne still life paintings contain these aspects, of course. Some Cezanne paintings contain skulls, as a reminder of death. Others contain ripened fruit. But the innovations are striking. Consider Still Life with a Plate of Cherries from our collection. While, on the surface, we are looking at ripened fruit, so this should be an image about fertility, upon closer look we see that the... Read more

Early Cezanne Painting Discovered?

May 03 2011 09:01AM | by Staff Editor

Six years ago, a British man (choosing to remain anonymous at this time) bought a painting in a thrift shop for less than $200 US, mainly because he liked the frame. He kept the painting in his attic, and recently looked a little closer at his purchase. The painting was curled at the edges, but he carefully unrolled it and discovered a signature. This isn't an experienced buyer, as he had to go and buy a book to make sure, but he thought this was perhaps a painting by Paul Cezanne. The buyer took his painting to an auction house in England for verification, and experts there also believe this is a painting by Cezanne. The buyer has sent images of the painting to the National Gallery in Britain for verification. It's likely he's waiting on pins and needles at this time. Cezanne paintings are remarkably popular, and therefore quite valuable. Still Life with Curtain, Pitcher and Bowl of Fruit sold for $61.08 million US in 1999, making it one of the most expensive paintings in the world. An older, as yet unknown, painting by Cezanne could be worth much, much more. The painting depicts a landscape, which is typical... Read more

Cezanne's Card Players

Apr 26 2011 10:30AM | by Staff Editor

A new exhibit of paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York explores card playing as seen through the eyes of Paul Cezanne. In the 1890s, Cezanne began a series of paintings of day laborers passing their scant spare time. Unlike many other paintings of the same period, these paintings by Cezanne contain no preaching or moral story. Instead, these are portraits in a realistic style, showing men whiling their time away through cards and smoking. If a trip to New York is outside your budget, we'll provide you with a sort of virtual tour, providing a sample of what you might see at the exhibit. You may be tempted to book your tickets to see the entire show before it closes. Or, you may be tempted to let our talented artists generate an oil painting reproduction of one of these beautiful Paul Cezanne paintings for your daily viewing pleasure. In his card playing paintings, Paul Cezanne shows workers clustered around small tables. While they all sit close together, they seem disjointed on an emotional level. Each player is absorbed in the task at hand, and not with conversation. Even the background characters, which are not involved in... Read more

Why Paul Cezanne Was Honored with a Google Doodle

Apr 10 2011 05:58PM | by Staff Editor

The search engine Google has a long history of changing their front-page artwork to match the events of the day. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Earth Day and Easter all have their own artwork to match. Elections and famous birthdays also usually merit an artwork change. On January 19th, Google had to make a choice: Should the company feature the birthday of Janis Joplin, Edgar Allen Poe or the painter Paul Cezanne? Each made their own contributions to art and culture. In the end, Google chose to honor Paul Cezanne with a Google doodle, exposing many people to the mastery of Cezanne paintings. While we appreciate the works of Joplin and Poe, we applaud the choice of Paul Cezanne as the artist of the day. After all, Cezanne paintings are widely credited with ushering in cubism and modernism in painting. Cezanne still-life paintings, in particular, employ flat planes and purely geometric shapes. Consider Apples and Biscuits . The table provides a pure horizontal plane, while the apples and biscuits are reduced to mere bright circles. In Cherries and Peaches, Cezanne twists the bowl of cherries up to meet the viewer, almost as though the viewer is looking from the front and the top... Read more