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The Courtauld Gallery holds the finest group of works by Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) in Britain. This is the catalogue to an exhibition showing the entire collection together for the first time, marking the culmination of The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 75th anniversary. The importance of the collection lies not only in its exceptionally high quality but also in its wide range, with seminal paintings and rarely seen drawings and watercolors from the major periods of the artist’s long career.
The collection includes such masterpieces as the iconic Montagne Sainte-Victoire, c. 1887 – one of the finest examples of Cézanne’s treatment of this subject – and Card Players, c. 1892–95, which show Cézanne working at the height of his powers. Through examination of such works, this book will chart the development of the artist’s revolutionary approach that would later see him acclaimed as the father of modern art. Extensive new research by the Courtauld’s Department of Conservation and Technology will add fresh insights into the artist’s working methods and techniques. Also under scrutiny are an important group of nine handwritten letters, held by the Courtauld, in which Cézanne reflects upon the fundamental principles of his artistic practice. In a letter to Emile Bernard Cézanne famously advised his protégé to “treat nature in terms of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone”. This celebrated statement would become a theoretical underpinning for the move towards abstraction in the twentieth century.