Cézanne, Paul: Portraits

Even Cézanne's pictures of people can be regarded as still lifes, because he demanded that his models sit absolutely still. Sitting for him was something of a nightmare. Not only was he foul-tempered, he was an extremely slow painter, probably the reason his subjects always look tired and sombre. Ambroise Vollard, the dealer who arranged Cézanne's first one-man show a century ago, posed 115 times for a single painting, sitting absolutely still "like an apple" and then Cézanne, dissatisfied, abandoned the picture with only two unpainted spots remaining. He told Vollard that with luck he would find the correct color and could finish the painting. "The prospect of this made me tremble," noted Vollard in his biography of the painter. In the artist's eye, there was no difference between a human sitter and a bowl of fruit, except that the reflection value and the palette were different. In the end, both his subjects and his fruit wilted.
Geffroy, Gustave (1855-1926) A radical journalist who commenced his career on Clemenceau's paper Justice. His literary activities later took many forms; he wrote extensively about current political and social injustices and published a number of novels with a strongly Realist bent. His interest in painting and especially in Impressionism was kindled by a visit he paid to Manet's studio in 1876, as a consequence of which he came into contact with all the other artists of the group, as well as Rodin, and maintained an on-going correspondance with most of them. His closest connection was with Monet, whom he first met at Belle-Ile in 1886 and about whom, some 30 years later, he wrote a book -- Claude Monet, sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre (1824) -- which is still valuable in many ways.

All his writings about Impressionism are significant and amongst the most intelligently perceptive of his time. His articles about contemporary art were collected in the eight volumes of La Vie artistique, published between 1892 and 1903, the third volume, entitled Histoire de l'impressionisme, being the most comprehensive book about the movement that had so far appeared. It consisted of a historical opening section followed by individual chapters devoted to each artist. He also wrote introductions to the catalogues of one-person exhibitions by Pissarro, Monet, Rodin and Morisot, as well as to that of the sale of the Burty collection. He ended his career as the director of the Gobelins tapestry factory.

© 30 Dec 1995, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info

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