Cézanne : the early years (1859-1872)

painting
Paul CézannePastoral© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / DR
In 1859, Cézanne was 20 years old. Having left his native city of Aix-en-Provence, he registered with the Swiss Academy in Paris where he became friends with the painters who would later be called "the impressionists". With about sixty paintings and twenty or so drawings and water colours, this exhibition told the story of this period, down to the eve of the first impressionist exhibition, in 1874. It dealt with the first artistic period of the painter which until then had not been the focus of any specific event.


The variety of themes Cézanne was to deal with and to which he was to remain faithful throughout his life are already present in the early years : still lifes, portraits, landscapes and compositions with characters. The exhibition also made it possible to highlight Cézanne's deep knowledge of the ancient masters and the inspiration he found in the work of painters of his century (Delacroix, Daumier, Millet, Courbet, Couture and Manet). The first pieces by the artist, in which he expressed a powerful strength of character, not to say an attraction for scenes of violence and for a bold composition, announced expressionism and lead us to consider Cézanne in the 1860's as a great precursor of modern art.

Scientific committee: Professor Sir Lawrence Gowing, Distinguished Professor Emeritus John Rewald, Françoise Cachin, director, Musée d'Orsay, Charles Moffett, curator, National Gallery of Arts, Washington, Sylvie Patin, curator, Musée d'Orsay, Norman Rosenthal, Royal Academy of Arts, London, Mary Anne Stevens, Royal Academy of Arts, London, Charles Stuckey, curator, Art Institude, Chicago

Publication

Exhibition catalogue
Cezanne: The Early Years 1859-1872
Royal Academy of Arts / Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

21 September 1988 - 1 January 1989
Musée d'Orsay

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