About the Project
The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cezanne, an online catalogue raisonné is the first compilation of the artist’s complete works since Lionello Venturi's 1936 oeuvre catalogue. It capitalizes on the versatility of digital technology and takes Cezanne scholarship in a new direction. The online catalogue is dynamic and is updated on a regular basis so that users can be assured of the most current information about the artist. Primary source material is added as publications increasingly come online.
The authors expect that this online catalogue will be of great benefit to students and scholars who will be able to access Cezanne’s paintings and works on paper through a variety of advanced searches and save specific information to personal lists for further research; curators who can create wish lists for proposed exhibitions and design virtual installations; auction houses and galleries who require detailed history and the most up-to-date information about a picture; collectors who might wish to know more about the history of their own paintings and how they relate to others in Cezanne’s oeuvre; and the general public, who may simply want to see what Cezanne’s paintings look like and to learn about this important artist.
History of the Catalogue
The first attempt to catalogue Cezanne’s paintings began around 1904 by the artist’s dealer, Ambroise Vollard. He envisioned a set of photo albums that would be supplemented by identifications, dates and annotations by the artist’s son, much like the dealer’s 1919 two-volume catalogue of Renoir’s paintings (Tableaux, pastels, dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir). Vollard’s catalogue never materialized, but he did send a case of five photograph albums to the artist in April 1905, which Cezanne gratefully received.
Georges Rivière, writer, art critic and father-in-law of Cezanne’s son, published a biography of the artist in 1923 (Le Maître Paul Cézanne) that included a chronological and annotated list of many of the painter’s works. The chronology is not without errors and repetitions, but was a serious endeavor nevertheless.
It wasn’t until 1936 that the first bona-fide catalogue raisonné of Cezanne’s oeuvre was issued. Conceived and published by one of France’s leading art dealers, Paul Rosenberg, and authored by the distinguished Italian professor, Lionello Venturi, the two-volume catalogue, Cézanne: Son Art, Son Oeuvre, became for many the definitive record of the artist’s work. Venturi’s catalogue remained so for over five decades, but not without necessitating a supplement as additional works were discovered and new scholarship and documentation introduced.
An exemplary catalogue of Cezanne's drawings was published in 1973 by the art historian and collector Adrien Chappuis (The Drawings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné), the product of over thirty years of study of the artist. The catalogue was celebrated by critics and Cezanne scholars alike and has remained the classic source for the artist's graphic work.
The same year that Venturi’s catalogue raisonné was published, a young scholar named John Rewald wrote his PhD thesis on Cezanne and his friendship with Emile Zola. He pursued his study of Cezanne and, at Venturi’s death in 1961, was clearly recognized as his natural successor. Rewald was tasked with combining Venturi’s planned supplement with his own research, an agreement that did not work out as intended. After years of studying Cezanne’s works, Rewald found that he not only disagreed with many of his predecessor’s dates but a number of his attributions as well. He therefore set about developing an entirely new catalogue raisonné, first of Cezanne’s watercolors published in 1983 and then (posthumously) The Paintings of Paul Cézanne in 1996. These two catalogues received critical acclaim and have been the principle research tools for scholars and students of Cezanne ever since. There were two drawbacks however, the images were published in black and white, and there was no Internet.
Since the publication of Chappuis and Rewald’s oeuvre catalogues, new scholarship and source material have become known and color photography has replaced black and white. A number of major exhibitions have examined Cezanne’s influence on the painters who knew and followed him; others have focused on the artist’s studios of the North and South; and new sites cezanniens have been identified. In addition, several important archives have been made accessible to scholars in recent years.
There are still areas of research to be completed over the next two years. These areas will include a reassessment of dates for individual works, an updated chronology of the the artist's life, and identification of sites, subject matter and motifs.
The online catalogue has been—and continues to be—a collaborative effort. It is our hope that owners of works for which we have no known location will contact us so that we can maintain up-to-date data. And that scholars will share their insights and studies on Cezanne and offer suggestions that will advance the understanding of the artist. The appeal of an online catalogue is, of course, the ease with which new material can be added and therefore shared with other researchers.