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Up close and Personal: World’s First-ever Exhibition of Cezanne Portraits in London

By Anjida Sripongworakul

Tuesday 14 November 2017 Culture

Dubbed by the Guardian as a “Once in a lifetime” exhibition, Paul Cezanne’s Portraits gathered from all over the world is soon to be on display at London’s own National Portrait Gallery.

Hailed by Matisse and Picasso as “the father of us all,” Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) predated Proust and Joyce on contemplating the self as the Modern Art’s and Modern Soul’s Inventor, as termed by The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones. Cezanne was a French Post-Impressionist painter famous for his Still Life, nature, and bath studies, paintings—two of which are Still Life with a Curtain (1895) and Mont Sainte-Victoire (1887). The exhibit is to showcase 50 of the almost 200 portraits painted by Cezanne during his lifetime, including ones of his wife, Hortense Fiquet.

Curated by notable forces from New York’s Museum of Modern Art (John Elderfield, Chief Curator), UK’s National Gallery of Art (Mary Morton, Curator and Head of French Paintings Department), and France’s Musee D’Orsay (Xavier Rev, Director of Collections), the exhibition first starts its tour in Britain’s capital, prior to moving to France and the United States.

The exhibition, gathering Cezanne’s rare portraits, collects Cezanne’s privately and museum-owned works in Europe, Asia (Japan), and the United States. This is a chance to glimpse works such as Self Portrait in a Bowler Hat (1885) and Madame Cezanne in a Yellow Chair (1888-90), previously unseen in Britain.

The exhibition’s curators have carefully selected the portraits so as to depict Cezanne’s varying views of each subject, displayed chronologically to showcase changes in the painter’s style and method, alongside his exploration of subjects’ likenesses and their unique identities.

The exhibition is on display at the National Portrait Gallery’s Wolfson and Lerner Galleries, from October 26 this year to February 11, 2018. Tickets can be purchased at the Gallery or online through the National Portrait Gallery’s website, by booking thirty-minute timeslots during which you arrive to view the exhibition. Concessions are £18.50 (with donation) and £16.50 (without donation).

As part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Late Shift, you can also attend a talk on the paintings, entitled In Conversation: Cezanne Portraits, on October 26, in which John Elderfield discusses the exhibition with Royal Academy of Arts’ Artistic Director, Tim Marlow, at 7pm.

Tickets are £8, and £7 for concessions and can be purchased through the same channels as those for attending the exhibition.


Anjida Sri

I'm a Management Science (Decision Science Stream) Master's candidate at London School of Economics and Political Science. Originally from Thailand, I'm as passionate about the science, psychology, and statistics behind decision making as I am about film and writing. I enjoy opportunities to combine my passions in reviewing, discussing, and analysing films. My major influences include the New Yorker's James Wood, classic Russian literature, and Richard Siken's poetry. I've written film reviews, celebrity profiles, and news and technology coverage for my undergraduate engineering newspaper, the University of Waterloo's Iron Warrior. I'm also a guest blogger and Student Blog Editor for LSE's Department of Management. I believe pop culture, current affairs, and critical, world-changing ideas are integral to student lifestyle, and I'm committed to representing students' reality outside the classroom to society and the world. I hope to continue investigating this theme through NUS' platform for student voices.