Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair, c. 1877 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Bequest of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd. Photo copyright 2017 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Cézanne Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

Despite being most well known for his landscapes, Paul Cézanne painted almost 200 portraits during his career, including 26 of himself and 29 of his wife, Hortense Piquet.  This show, which opens today, includes over 50 of those portraits, many of which have never been seen in the UK before.  These are very different paintings to the majority of those found elsewhere in the National Portrait Gallery though.  They do not portray elegant, fashionably-dressed women or men in power.  Cézanne hated flattery and disliked anything staged; Cézanne’s sitters were not allowed to smile or gesticulate.  He took no paid commissions and apparently shouted vehemently if the sitter moved at all.  What he paints then, is the sheer factual presence of the person and the resulting portraits are incredibly modern, mysterious and raw.  We highly recommend this impressive show as well as some of the accompanying talks, particularly with the curator, John Elderfield, who is wonderfully knowledgeable about Cézanne and hails him as the ‘most profound portrait painter since Rembrandt’.

Cézanne Portraits
Until 11 February 2018
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, WC2H 0HE
— Francesca
25th October 2017