Cézanne is best known for his paintings of still-lifes and landscapes. Yet his graphic oeuvre, which comprises over 1200 drawings and is one of the most extensive and certainly the most important of the nineteenth century, has rarely been explored as thoroughly as in this volume. Andersen's acute analysis of this serious and impressive output of Cézanne has resulted in an art book of unusual distinction: all of the portraits are here, the majority in exact-size reproductions, allowing the reader to follow the critical points visually with ease.
This artistic presentation represents a splendid and successful attempt to establish a chronology for Cézanne's work and provides an unusually valuable treatment of the development of the artist's style as seen through the portrait drawings.
Andersen's decision to focus on Cézanne's portrait drawings as a path to a more precise chronology of his art was based on two major considerations: first, that roughly half the documentation pertinent to Cézanne's chronology concerns portraits; second, that the many drawings Cézanne made of his son can be dated by estimating the child's age. Since the documentation available is particularly helpful for the sixties and the nineties, and since the portraits of his son extend from about 1874 to the mid-nineties, it has been possible to outline quite precisely Cézanne's graphic development over these four decades and to derive from this sequence sufficient visual evidence to date with reasonable accuracy many additional portrait drawings. This study should assist in establishing also a more accurate chronology for the balance of Cézanne's graphic oeuvre.
The book is divided into two sections: an expository section, arranged chronologically, of portrait drawings, and a catalogue. The portrait drawings fall into five periods: 1865-1871, 1872-1874, 1875-1880, 1879-1889, 1890-1906. Andersen points out the remarkable consistency in Cézanne's style which existed over a period of some forty years, and shows how the stylistic continuity evolved through the development of the artist's own daemon and through his persistent self-exploration.
The extensiveness of this work, the detailed stylistic analysis, and the complete catalogue of all portrait drawings, almost all of which are reproduced, most of them in facsimile size, makes Andersen's book an invaluable contribution to nineteenth-century art history. Scholars, art dealers, museum curators and collectors, as well as students of art will find this study a stimulating and satisfying unraveling of the chronology and evolution of Cézanne's graphic style.