About the Project
The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cezanne, an online catalogue raisonné is the first compilation of the artist’s complete works since Lionello Venturi's 1936 oeuvre catalogue. It capitalizes on the versatility of digital technology and takes Cezanne scholarship in a new direction. The online catalogue is dynamic and is 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 Cezanne’s paintings and works on paper through a variety of advanced searches and save specific information to personal lists for further research; curators who can create wish lists for proposed exhibitions and 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 Cezanne’s oeuvre; and the general public, who may simply want to see what Cezanne’s paintings look like and to learn about this important artist.
History of the Catalogue
The first attempt to catalogue Cezanne’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 Cezanne gratefully received.
Georges Rivière, writer, art critic and father-in-law of Cezanne’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 Cezanne’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 over five decades, but not without necessitating a supplement as additional works were discovered and new scholarship and documentation introduced.
An exemplary catalogue of Cezanne's drawings was published in 1973 by the art historian and collector Adrien Chappuis (The Drawings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné), the product of over thirty years of study of the artist. The catalogue was celebrated by critics and Cezanne scholars alike and has remained the classic source for the artist's graphic work.
The same year that Venturi’s catalogue raisonné was published, a young scholar named John Rewald wrote his PhD thesis on Cezanne and his friendship with Emile Zola. He pursued his study of Cezanne 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 Cezanne’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 Cezanne’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 Cezanne ever since. There were two drawbacks however, the images were published in black and white, and there was no Internet.
Since the publication of Chappuis and Rewald’s oeuvre catalogues, new scholarship and source material have become known and color photography has replaced black and white. In addition, the Internet has opened ujp new areas of research and several important archives have been available to scholars. With those advances in mind, Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman and David Nash embarked in 2010 on the then revolutionary idea of combining the four catalogues raisonnés and publishing an online version. With their combined decades of Cezanne expertise, as well as the innovative interactive capabilities designed by panOpticon, they launched the online catalogue raisonné of Cezanne's paintings on November 20th, 2014 and the watercolors and drawings on January 19th, 2019, the artist's 180th birthday. The catalogue became the gold standard of ventures of this kind.
On June 1, 2023, the authors of FWN transferred the sole management of the catalogue raisonné to the Société Paul Cezanne (societe-cezanne.fr), which is based in the artist's native city of Aix-en-Provence. The Société, founded in 1998, comprises an international group of experts and will continue to advance Cezanne scholarship into the future.
Plans to establish a Cezanne study center (Centre Cezannien de Recherche et Documentation) in the farmhouse adjacent to the Jas de Bouffan (the artist's family home) are underway, with a grand opening in 2025. The maintenance and archival material of the catalogue raisonné will be based there.
The online catalogue has been – and continues to be a collaborative endeavor. The Société Paul Cezanne invites input from scholars, researchers, students and collectors to ensure that the artist's legacy is preserved.