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From:  Galerie Dada art reproduction paintings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 April 2006

Cezanne, reclusive 19th century genius, gets recognition he craved a century on

National Gallery Major retrospective of the 'father of modern art'

He was shy, reclusive, a bit gruff but probably not as unpleasant as some would have us believe. Hardly anyone knew of him while he was alive but now he is recognised as one of the 19th century's greatest oil painters.

Paul Cezanne died after contracting pneumonia in October 100 years ago. During his life he only had a few exhibitions in his home country and none across the channel. A century on and the National Gallery will go some way to putting this right when it hosts a major retrospective of his work, bringing together 40 of his oil paintings, all held in British collections.

Cezanne's influence on subsequent artists was phenomenal. Often called the father of modern art, he was a bridge between the Impressionists and the Cubists, he hugely influenced the likes of Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, Braque, Kandinsky and Mondrian. He was an innovator taking liberties with shape and form unheard of in his day.

Anne Robbins, assistant curator of 19th century oil paintings at the National Gallery, called the exhibition, which opens in October, "terribly exciting". The exhibits will cover all aspects of Cezanne's artwork; the portraits, the exquisite still-lifes, the landscapes and the bathers.

Cezanne was very much the artist's artist, said to be always far more interested in the theory of oil painting than the subject. He was obsessed by form and methods and took incredibly daring liberties with painted shapes.

Among the works brought together for the London exhibition is a Bathers delicately prised from a private collection and going on public display for the first time. Between the 1870s and his death Cezanne explored the theme of naked bathers in about 200 artworks, inspired by his love of the Renaissance and the studies he made in the Louvre of the likes of Titian and Giorgione. Never particularly concerned by physical beauty, Cezanne's bathers are more often than not a bit lumpy, deformed even.

One of the three oil paintings on Cezanne's easel when he died will also be part of the exhibition - Great Bathers. Cezanne worked on the three large paintings of women bathing for seven years, hoping they would earn him the place in art history he firmly believed he deserved. The monumental works were a particular inspiration for Matisse and Picasso.

There will be examples of Cezanne's famed still lifes oil piantings and his landscapes, including the countryside of his native and beloved Provence.

Perhaps the oil painting Cezanne would not want staring down at visitors is the self-portrait, bought for the National Gallery in 1925. "He didn't enjoy self-portraiture. He was never that keen to reveal himself," said Ms Robbins.

It is this shyness that has probably given Cezanne more unfair headlines than he deserves. According to Ms Robbins, there is an undeserved cliche of the painter - that he was a rather unpleasant grump. While he did progressively retire into isolation, he was not as unsociable as sometimes made out.

The image of Cezanne as unfriendly is not borne out when you find he spent a lot of school days larking about with his great chum Emile Zola. Or that one of his best friends, a man he used to go on painting trips with, was Camille Pissarro.

He was, though, beleaguered by self-doubt. His friend, Zola, wrote in a letter: "Paul may have the genius of a great painter, but he will never have the genius to become one. The slightest obstacle makes him despair."

Another widely acknowledged theme of Cezanne's life was his craving for recognition, something which did not come easily. The Salon - the official art exhibitions of 19th century Paris - rejected Cezanne oil paintings in the 1860s. Before he died he offered his artwork to Aix and was again turned down - the authorities wanted proper art. This year, France has declared, is the year of Cezanne.

Cezanne in Britain, The National Gallery, October 4 2006 to January 7 2007

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