Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Accessible Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) Portrait de l'artiste à la palette, c. 1890, 
oil on canvas, 36.2 x 28.7 ins. (92 x 73cm)

Voilà!  On the 180th anniversary of  the birth of Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906), January 19, 2019, the artist's complete catalogue raisonné was launched online.  The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cézanne by a team of dedicated Cézanne scholars presents the most comprehensive compilation of the artist's works to date and is freely available to the public. 

The authors are Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman and David Nash. Feilchenfeldt worked with the eminent Cézanne specialist John Rewald (1912 - 1994) on the collation of the artist's paintings  published in 1996, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue RaisonneWarman also collaborated on the Rewald catalogue.  Nash, who long admired Cézanne and Rewald, is an art dealer who previously spent 35 years at Sotheby's auction house in the Impressionist and modern art areas.  Nash originally wanted to upgrade the Rewald catalogue with color illustrations since the book had only black-and-white reproductions.  The project grew into a digital version that not only includes the artist's paintings but also his watercolors and drawings.  In addition, it contains sections on collections, exhibitions, literature and resources.  

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) Baigneuses1899 – 1904
oil on canvas, 20 3/16 x 24 5/16 in. (51.3 x 61.7 cm)
 The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

The advantages of a digital format are manifold.  Continuous input of the latest information is possible, searchability paths are limited only by one's imagination and images - which most importantly in this online catalogue are shown at relative size - are retrieved from one site.   

The catalogue has three main components:  Paintings, Watercolors & Drawings and Sketchbooks.  The first two sections are divided into themes such as landscape, portrait and still life.  Filters and the search box allow users to cull groups or specific artworks.  Over 140 primary category filters and innumerable subdivisions facilitate focused investigations. For example:  Go to the "Filters & Keywords" drop down menu. Click on "Bather" and 16 subcategories are brought up.  Click on "Bathers and Nudes"and another 7 categories appear.   Type in "bathers" on the search line for "Catalogue" and 146 works show up.

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) Skull and Book, c. 1895,
watercolor over black chalk on laid paper,
Sheet: 9 1/4 × 12 3/16 in. (23.5 × 31 cm)
Detroit Institute of Arts, Bequest of John S. Newberry, 65.139

Entries are rich in details and facts including the item's provenance, exhibition history and published references.  Type "skull" in the search box for example and 18 works - oil paintings, watercolors and drawings appear.  Click on one, such as the c. 1885 watercolor Un crâne.  The title in the catalogue  is Un crâne but the alternate titles section of the entry tells us the watercolor is also known as A skull and Skull and Book.  The latter is the one used by the Detroit Institute of Arts where the work resides.  Click on Detroit Institute of Arts and you see all the Cézannes in the museum's collection.  Such a search would entice viewers to make a trip there.  

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) La Montagne Sainte-Victoire au grand pin, c. 1887,
oil on canvas, 26 x 35 3/8 in. (66 x 90 cm)

Mont Sainte-Victoire, a limestone mountain near the artist's family home in Provence, was one of  Cézanne's favorite landscape subjects. He began painting the mountain in the early 1880s and continued to depict it from various perspectives repeatedly until his death.  Search "Mont Sainte-Victoire" and 97 works come into view. 

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, c. 1900, 
watercolor on paper, 11 13/16 x 19 in. (30 x 48.3 cm)
  Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA  

A heading titled "Additional Materials" sometimes is found on a entry page.  A click on it brings up  interesting connections.  Take the watercolor La Montagne Sainte-Victoire in the Barnes Foundation. This heading leads to an oil painting belonging to a private collection in Qatar which has the same composition as the Barnes's watercolor.

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) La Montagne Sainte-Victoire vue des Lauves, 1902 - 04, 
oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 35 3/16 in. (69.8 x 89.5 cm)
  Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA  

By viewing in chronological order one theme like "Mont Sainte-Victoire," the artist's pictorial evolution becomes apparent. 

If you are curious about which artists collected Cézanne, go to the Collection section and drop down the "Filters" menu.  37 artist collectors are listed.  Pick an artist.  Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) owned 15 works; Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917) had 12. There is so much to learn from this exceptional Web site.

The catalogue benefits everyone.  From scholars to the general public - anyone who has even the slightest interest in the artist will find hours of exploration and enjoyment.  

An online catalogue raisonné under the direction of Walter Feilchenfeldt, 
Jayne Warman and David Nash

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