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FOURTEEN DRAWINGS BY PAUL CÉZANNE, FORMERLY IN THE CHAPPUIS-BARUT COLLECTION
Adrien Chappuis began to appreciate and study the drawings of Paul Cézanne during the 1920s, at a time when few scholars and collectors were interested in this aspect of the artist's oeuvre. He acquired numerous watercolours and drawings from the dealers Ambroise Vollard and Paul Guillaume, who acted on behalf of Paul Cézanne fils. The great Cézanne scholar Lionello Venturi had done pioneering, but far from exhaustive work, on the drawings. In 1961 Venturi urged Chappuis to undertake a long-needed catalogue raisonné, offering him full access to his files. Chappuis published his magisterial two-volume catalogue in 1973, and since then his name has joined those of Venturi and John Rewald in comprising the great triumvirate of Cézanne scholarship in our time.
In the introduction to his catalogue raisonné, Chappuis listed 18 or possibly 19 known sketchbooks (carnets) that the artist used. From these come most of the drawings, as well as many of the small watercolours, that are known and collected today. The following works come from the second of four sketchbooks that Chappuis owned, which he designated CP II. Following the death of Mme Chappuis in 1999, this sketchbook and many drawings were beaqueathed to the family of Georges Barut and his son Jean, who had been lifelong friends of the scholar and his wife. The Barut family sold their Cézanne holdings, including CP II, in a landmark session at Christie's, London, on 26 June 2003. The drawings then remaining in CP II were subsequently removed and individually framed, as presented here, as Chappuis himself had often done, and advocated in his catalogue: 'My thirty years' experience has taught me that a Cézanne drawing assumes its full importance only when it presented in isolation, in a suitable, not overcrowded setting' (The Drawings of Paul Cézanne, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, London, 1973, p. 23).
Bathers, portraits, still-lifes and landscapes - the primary subjects in Cézanne's mature oeuvre - are represented in the pages of the carnet CP II, which the artist used between 1872 and 1896, covering a significant portion of his career. There are many similarities between subjects in the sketchbook and the artist's paintings and watercolours. The bather studies are directly related or preparatory to figures that appear in the paintings. There are also sketches based on sculptures from antiquity, the late Renaissance and the baroque period. Cézanne's study of these historical works of art was crucial to the development of his conception of the human figure.
The landscape studies in CP II were certainly executed outdoors, sur le motif, in a manner that combines spontaneity and terseness of line, demonstrating Cézanne's skill in quickly conceptualising and reducing to their essentials the abundant forms in nature. In the still life subjects and the portraits of family members we enter the artist's domestic world after the day's work in the studio or out-of-doors was done, just before of after a late dinner, in quiet, intimate moments illuminated by lamplight. Here Cézanne sketched the visages of his wife, son and father while they read, wrote or dozed off to to sleep. Or he might be momentarily distracted by a sudden, compelling interest in a familiar wash-jug or piece of furniture. In these sketches the titanic, struggling figure of Cézanne the artist stands aside, and we behold Cézanne the man. Theodore Reff has offered illuminating insight into the personal world contained within the covers of a Cézanne carnet: 'Cézanne's sketchbooks were the most private means of expression this most private of painters used - the smallest, the most informal, the least demanding. Small enough to fit in a pocket, they could be carried anyhwhere and used at any time to record a fleeting observation or to seize again a recurrent dream. In them Cézanne could put down his first vision of a pictorial idea or explore it through a series of studies; work out a composition fully or barely begin it, turn the page and begin again, list the colours he needed to buy, the books he wanted to read, or the adresses he was given... and though his notes into them were restricted to practical matters, his sketchbooks were indeed his journals; if we read them perceptively, they reveal as fully in a visual as they could in a verbal form the whole span of his emotions from the most exalted to the most sober' (in Paul Cézanne, Two Sketchbooks, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1989, p. 8).