Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




The Power of Nature

In the shadow of Mont Sainte-Victoire



On the afternoon of 15 October 1906, the clouds had finally lifted after a thunder storm lasting many hours. A broad beam of light illuminated the rising ground between the Chemin des Lauves and the rugged Mont Sainte-Victoire Range. The country road was deserted. Only a horse-drawn cart was trundling on its way to Aix-en-Provence. Suddenly it was forced to a halt: a dark figure with dirty, wet clothing lay across the road: Pere Cezanne.

Kurt Leonhard, Cezanne, 1966


Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Apples and Oranges


He was not dead but unconscious. The two men eventually managed to hoist him up on to their cart and take him to his residence in town, where they left him in the care of his landlady, Mme Bremond. The first thing he is said to have asked on regaining consciousness was whether the sun was shining again. He wanted to go back out of doors to finish the painting he was working on when it had started to rain. However, the artist was never able to finish it. Paul Cezanne, in his youth a friend of Emile Zola's, died seven days later. All his life he had been regarded as sickly: "Without painting he would have been nothing but a shy, introspective psychopath incapable of living a normal life — this is the image his family and the people of Aix seem to have had of him", thus one of Cezanne's many biographers. Some of the painter's eccentricities have been recorded and range from nervous irritability and a phobia of physical contact, to paranoia. Cezanne went through phases of deep depression followed by manic periods during which he grandly over-estimated himself and his abilities. Then he would write about his celebrated former colleagues in Paris, such as Manet or Renoir: "Compared to me, all my compatriots are idiots". Painting was the only thing that kept the unpredictable Provencal, whose world was as unsteady as a damaged ship floundering in heavy seas, on a fairly even keel.

Cezanne preferred to paint out of doors. However, because he could not bear having anyone look over his shoulder while he was painting, he fled town and sought the solitude of nature in the surrounding countryside. Cezanne was obsessed with Mont Sainte-Victoire. He drew and painted more than sixty versions of this massive limestone escarpment, which looms a thousand metres above the flat country fifteen kilometres east of Aix. Here, he was alone and could forget all his troubles with the municipal authorities, who, he felt, had ruined the city with pavements, hideous promenades and gas lights. A further advantage of the mountains was that they were serenely static. Always squabbling with someone about something when he was not painting, Cezanne concentrated so hard on his still lifes that the fruit was invariably rotten before he had finished. It once took him 115 sittings to complete a portrait and he was known to have burst into a terrible rage at sitters who altered their expression. It was ideal for him that the face of Mont Sainte-Victoire only changed with the varying light and the seasons of the year. The "Sacred Mountain of Provence", as Mont Sainte-Victoire is sometimes called, became the leitmotif of Cezanne's work. Under its shadow began and ended the life of a painter who hardly exchanged a word with others, yet stirred the world with his groundbreaking pictorial language.


Paul Cezanne
Mont Sainte-Victoire

Paul Cezanne
Mont Sainte-Victoire

Paul Cezanne
Mont Sainte-Victoire


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