An interesting exhibition of Cézanne Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, though the best thing was that our daughter Jane, here for the weekend from Switzerland with her partner, was with us. And the coffee and scones in the basement café were good – certainly improved on the last time we had mid-morning snacks in the basement café.
Born in Aix-en-Provence in 1839, Cézanne enrolled in law school to please his father but left for Paris and a career in art in 1861. He was much influenced by Pisarro but developed a style of his own. His work was exhibited in the first exhibition of the Salon de Refusés in 1863.
I like his work but was disappointed by his portraits except those of the ‘ordinary’ people’ in the last two rooms of the exhibition. I know he said he didn’t want to obey the stereotypes of pretty simpering women and tough handsome men, but except for the portrait of Mme Cézanne sewing I thought his many portraits of his wife too bland and expressionless and the few men too alike.
His Boy in a Red Waistcoat 1888-1890 – a portrait of the professional model Michelangelo de Rosa and one of my favourite Cézanne paintings – has been used on the cover of the catalogue and there are prints on the wall of the downstairs café showing some of his more familiar and popular paintings.