Paul Cézanne’s paintings catalogue raisonné now online

Paul Cézanne was one of the most influential artists in history, whose experiments in paint at the back end of the nineteenth century and the early few years of the twentieth – he passed away in 1906 – are credited with helping lay the radical foundations of modernism in art.
Often described as a post-impressionist, the French painter’s style and approach to art influenced equally influential artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse explore with confidence new avenues, which would lead to movements like cubism and fauvism. Many of works are today classed as masterpieces.
We now have the luxury of indulging in these and other equally brilliant works at our leisure because the worldwide web is now home to the entire catalogue of his paintings, a project that has been made possible by the magnificent art experts Jayne Warman, Walter Feilchenfeldt and David Nash.
All three had previously worked on John Rewald’s exceptional tome, the Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonne, and this effort is, in many ways, a digital evolution – and homage – to this outstanding physical body of work.
It is important to note that this is a project that is very much a work in progress and what you will find online is the first of a number of installments that will deliver the most comprehensive and accessible catalogue of Cézanne’s paintings. It will also be regularly updated, offering visitors the most current detail on the artist.
“The authors expect that this online catalogue will be of great benefit to students and scholars who will be able to access Cézanne’s paintings through a variety of advanced searches and save specific information to personal lists for further research,” the team states on the website.
They add: “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 Cézanne and to offer suggestions that will advance the understanding of the artist.”
Cézanne was still alive when the first ‘real attempt’ to catalogue his work was made. In 1904, his dealer Ambroise Vollard – described as the “original Charles Saatchi” – conceived of the idea as a set of photo albums whose images would be complemented by important details.
Although the proposal failed to come to fruition, it established, in effect, the ‘enthusiasm’ and interest in doing so. The art critic and writer Georges Rivière – who was father-in-law to Cézanne’sson – was one of the first to publish (in 1923) a biography of the artist, with a chronological and annotated list of his works.
While a commendable and serious effort, it was not without its faults. It would be another 13 years before a proper catalogue raisonné would emerge, with the influential art dealer Paul Rosenberg conceiving and publishing the Lionello Venturi authored tome.
Interestingly, and tying everything together, the very same year that the art historian Venturi’s book was published, a young John Rewald penned his PhD thesis on Cézanne’s friendship with the French writer Emile Zola. He would go on to develop his expertise and, after Venturi passed away, was considered to be his natural successor.
More so, he went on to eclispse the author and become the preeminent authority on Cézanne. He produced two catalogues, one specifically on watercolours and then one on, as this piece evidently references, one on all his paintings.
Both remain key texts, but were lacking somewhat given that the images were not in colour and new material and understanding have since emerged. The website should therefore be viewed as an accompaniment, a more modern and accessible tool, that encompasses much of Rewald’s work but with a more informed, digital twist. It is, short of nothing, a fitting tribute to Cézanne.
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