The National Portrait Gallery presents the first exhibition which is devoted entirely to portraits by Paul Cézanne. The exhibition entitled 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.
Cézanne painted almost 200 portraits during his career and the exhibition explore the many themes associated with Cézanne’s portraiture including complementary pairs and multiple versions of the same subject. One complementary pair is the artist’s Self Portrait in a Bowler Hat which offers a rather different view of the artist.
The exhibition explores the chronological development of Cézanne’s portraiture and examine the changes of his style and method. From a realistic representation he moves gradually to impressionistic approach that concentrates on form and colour to illustrate the sitter’s exterior and interior states.
Like many artists he initially relied on family and friends to be his sitters and the exhibition features a number of portraits featuring his wife and Uncle Dominique. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the painting of the artist’s father reading a newspaper. Another highlight is the artist’s wife dressed in red in three large paintings.
However it is the self-portraits that give some insight into the characteristics and nature of the artist. His first self-portrait presents the artist as a serious, almost obsessive young man with a piercing stare. His last self-portrait illustrates that the artist had mellowed with age as he looks wistfully into the distance.
It is with some surprise to learn that Cezanne’s portraiture has received surprisingly little attention. This fascinating exhibition provides evidence that the artist constant experimentation with portraits underpinned his whole approach to art that transcended impressionism and paved the way for Cubism and avant-garde artists. His considerable influence was recognised by Matisse, Picasso and many others.
Video Review available here
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
If you would like to find out more about the exhibition, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here
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