The Project

The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, an online catalogue raisonné is the first installment of the artist’s complete works. It capitalizes on the versatility of digital technology and takes Cézanne scholarship in a new direction. The online catalogue is interactive and will be updated on a regular basis so that users can be assured of the most current information about the artist. Primary source material is added as publications increasingly come online.

The authors expect that this online catalogue will be of great benefit to students and scholars who will be able to access Cézanne’s paintings through a variety of advanced searches and save specific information to personal lists for further research; curators who can create wish lists of paintings for proposed exhibitions and conceivably design virtual installations; auction houses and galleries who require detailed history and the most up-to-date information about a picture; collectors who might wish to know more about the history of their own paintings and how they relate to others in Cézanne’s oeuvre; and the general public, who may simply want to see what Cézanne’s paintings look like and to learn about this important artist.

History of the Catalogue

Pommes et oranges, c.1899 (871)

The first attempt to catalogue Cézanne’s paintings began around 1904 by the artist’s dealer, Ambroise Vollard. He envisioned a set of photo albums that would be supplemented by identifications, dates and annotations by the artist’s son, much like the dealer’s 1919 two-volume catalogue of Renoir’s paintings (Tableaux, pastels, dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir). Vollard’s catalogue never materialized, but he did send a case of five photograph albums to the artist in April 1905, which Cézanne gratefully received.

Georges Rivière, writer, art critic and father-in-law of Cézanne’s son, published a biography of the artist in 1923 (Le Maître Paul Cézanne) that included a chronological and annotated list of many of the painter’s works. The chronology is not without errors and repetitions, but was a serious endeavor nevertheless.

It wasn’t until 1936 that the first bona-fide catalogue raisonné of Cézanne’s oeuvre was issued. Conceived and published by one of France’s leading art dealers, Paul Rosenberg, and authored by the distinguished Italian professor, Lionello Venturi, the two-volume catalogue, Cézanne: Son Art, Son Oeuvre, became for many the definitive record of the artist’s work. Venturi’s catalogue remained so for five decades, but not without necessitating a supplement as additional works were discovered and new scholarship and documentation introduced. 

The same year that Venturi’s catalogue raisonné was published, a young scholar named John Rewald wrote his PhD thesis on Cézanne and his friendship with Emile Zola. He pursued his study of Cézanne and, at Venturi’s death in 1961, was clearly recognized as his natural successor.  Rewald was tasked with combining Venturi’s planned supplement with his own research, an agreement that did not work out as intended. After years of studying Cézanne’s works, Rewald found that he not only disagreed with many of his predecessor’s dates but a number of his attributions as well. He therefore set about developing an entirely new catalogue raisonné, first of Cézanne’s watercolors published in 1983 and then (posthumously) The Paintings of Paul Cézanne in 1996. These two catalogues received critical acclaim and have been the principle research tools for scholars and students of Cézanne ever since. There were two drawbacks however, the images were published in black and white, and there was no Internet.

Since the publication of Rewald’s oeuvre catalogues, new scholarship and source material have become known and color photography has replaced black and white. A number of major exhibitions have examined Cézanne’s influence on the painters who knew and followed him; others have focused on the artist’s studios of the North and South; and new sites cézanniens have been identified. In addition, several important archives have been made accessible to scholars in recent years. This new material can be easily uploaded to the website.

Future Plans

The online catalogue has been—and continues to be—a collaborative effort. It is our hope that owners of works for which we have no known location will contact us so that we can maintain up-to-date data. And that scholars will share their insights and studies on Cézanne and to offer suggestions that will advance the understanding of the artist. The appeal of an online catalogue is, of course, the ease with which new material can be added and therefore shared with other researchers.

The authors plan to integrate Cézanne's watercolors and drawings into the Paintings Catalogue in the not too distant future, thus creating an online record of the artist's complete works.

Page citation: Feilchenfeldt, Walter, Jayne Warman, and David Nash. "The Project." The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné. http://www.cezannecatalogue.com/page/index.php?id=project (accessed August 18, 2018).