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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 August 2013
Whilst this is a straightforward, clearly presented book about Cezanne, in the Phaidon Colour Library Series, the potential reader should note that it was first published in 1961 and revised and enlarged in 1991. The text is by Catherine Dean.

The hardback edition was published in 1994. It should be pointed out that the Select Bibliography does have a significant proportion of its entries from the late 1970s-1990 so that it is likely that the book incorporates the advances in art scholarship of that period. It used to be the tradition that, where a book had been revised, the author would describe the extent of the revision but in the absence of such information, the advice must be `caveat emptor'.

The book contains an introductory text, "Cezanne", illustrated with 11 black and white figures, a brief "Outline Biography"; "Select Bibliography" (subdivided into Monographs, Exhibition Catalogues and General Books); "List of Colour Plates" (48), "List of Text Figures" (11) and "List of Comparative Figures" (35). Each work is illustrated as a full page coloured plate augmented by a brief text, and the colour reproduction is up to the publisher's 1990s standards.

The works, which are presented chronologically, range from "Portrait of the Painter, Achille Emperaire", c. 1868-70, to "The Gardner", c. 1906, which takes in his entire career. All his motifs are included, landscapes predominate (21), portraits (12), still lifes (10) and genre works (5). The selection includes many of the artist's acknowledged masterpieces.

Dean's introduction is structured according to `Cezanne and the Old Masters', `Cezanne and the Impressionists', Cezanne's Technique', `Cezanne's Subject Matter' and `Criticism and Acclaim'. The author has a very clear style and is particularly effective in describing the various technical changes, in his oil paintings and his later watercolours, that Cezanne adopted during his career. The artist was never comfortable with live sitters and whilst works, such as "The Boy in the Red Waistcoat", c. 1888-90, and "The Card Players", c. 1892-5, show considerable elongation of the figure, he was able to incorporate the correct proportions if/when he wished. Unlike many other artists of the time, Cezanne was not interested in pastels or sculpture, and only dabbled, at the urging of others, in prints and lithographs.

It is important to remember that Cezanne's work was not, in general, well-received until the turn of the 20th century and that, until the death of his father in 1886, he suffered considerable financial hardship. His main supporters were the customs official, Victor Chocquet, who acquired the largest early collection of the artist's paintings, Gustave Geoffroy, with whom the painter had a difficult relationship, and Ambroise Vollard who, at the urging of Pissarro, held a one-man exhibition of more than 150 of Cezanne's works in 1895. This is yet another example of Pissarro supporting younger artists.

Following Chocquet's death in 1899, the dealer, Durand-Ruel, bought many of Cezanne's works and was instrumental in promoting the artist. However, even in 1903 the auction of Emile Zola's collection was accompanied by attacks and vilification of the artist in the press. The same happened at the exhibition that Roger Fry, who introduced the term "Post-Impressionism", organized in London in 1910 but by then the artist's star was in the ascendant.

This is a still a good introduction to the artist but some of the prices quoted would appear to be based on antique values!
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