Exhibit Information

Metropolitan Museum of Art

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New York, NY 10028

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Phone Number 212-535-7710

Website http://www.metmuseum.org/

CÉZANNE’S CARD PLAYERS

Opening: 9 FEBRUARY 2011 - Closing: 8 MAY 2011

Even in the Paris of the 19th-century, there certainly were Struggling-Artists. Vincent van Gogh comes immediately to mind.

 

But Paul Cézanne was not one of these Unfortunates. His Family had an Estate outside Aix-en-Provence!

 

Now you can see some of the results of Cézanne’s Painting-on-the-Estate, at the Met Museum.

 

Cézanne’s Card Players unites works from the series by Paul Cézanne [1839-1906], bringing together a majority of related Paintings, Oil-Studies, & Drawings.

 

A group of Portraits of Peasants—several of whom appear in the Card-Players-Compositions—are also included in this exhibition, the first devoted to Cézanne’s interest in Peasants-Playing-Cards.

 

Created in the 1890s, while the artist was living at his family’s Estate, these images capture the character Cézanne admired in the people of the region. Taken altogether, the works chart the development of the series, as Cézanne strove to achieve the most powerful expression of his motif.

 

The Metropolitan-Museum holds one of the finest collections of Cézanne’s Works in the World. In fact, in 1913, it was the first Public-Institution in the United States to acquire a painting by Cézanne.

 

The Metropolitan’s The Card Players [ca. 1890-92] is on display, as well as Seated Peasant [ca. 1892-96] from the Museum’s Annenberg-Collection.

 

These Treasures are enhanced by loans from the Courtauld Gallery, the Honolulu Academy of Fine-Arts, the Kimbell Art-Museum, Die Kunsthalle Mannheim, the Musée d’Orsay, the Museum-Boijmans-Van-Beuningen—in Rotterdam, the Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design, the National Gallery of Art—in Washington, DC, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art—in Kansas-City the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pierpont-Morgan-Library-Museum, & the Worcester Art-Museum, as well as loans from Private-Collections.

 

In choosing to paint Card-Players, Cézanne chose a Theme that had been popular with artists since the 17th-century. It was typically associated with Rowdy Drinking & Gambling, often suggesting Moralizing-Lessons.

 

The Exhibition includes a Gallery of 24 works from the Met-Museum’s collection of these Card-Playing & Smoking-Scenes, which range from 17th-century Dutch & Flemish Etchings & Engravings to 19th-century French prints by Daumier & Manet.

 

Cézanne was familiar with these precedents but he decided to reinvent the subject by portraying his Card-Players as Stoic, Monumental-Figures.

 

Cézanne’s depictions of Card-Players proved to be one of his most ambitious projects. It occupied him for several years. He undertook the series at the beginning of the 1890s, using Peasants & Laborers at his family’s Estate—the Jas de Bouffan—as models.

 

These sittings resulted in five closely-related canvases of different sizes that show Card-Players engaged in the age-old-ritual of their Game, three of which are reunited in Cézanne’s Card-Players.

 

He also produced a larger number of paintings of the individual Farm-Workers who appear in the Card-Players compositions, major examples of which are on-view.

 

Uncharacteristic of Cézanne’s usual Working-Practice, these Preparatory-Works suggest that he studied the models individually & then literally assembled them on the canvas.

 

Together, the works chart Cézanne’s gradual refinement of his compositions. They offer a fascinating sense of the development of this series. In the process, he abandoned the conventional rules of painting & arrived at an Innovative-Approach to express the Essential-Character of his Subjects.

 

Cézanne’s Card-Players-Series of paintings & his portraits of Individual-Peasants epitomize his Vision of Rural-Life in Provence. He conveys the Gravitas & Stoicism of his Sitters, for whom he had great admiration.

 

The local peasants of Aix were to Cézanne Steadfast, Unchanging, & Monumental, not unlike his beloved Mont Sainte-Victoire. As he later noted: "I love above all else the appearance of people who have grown Old, without breaking with Old-Customs.”

 

A bit Patronising, perhaps, but then, in essence, Cézanne was something of a Patron, if not a Dutch Patroon

 

But then do remember that Cézanne characterized his work to Auguste Renoir as "Souvenirs of the Museums.”

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