The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in . The exhibition Cézanne ended on 12 March 2023.

Tate Modern

A Landmark Cézanne Retrospective

On until 12 March 2023, Tate Modern in London presents a once-in-a-generation exhibition of paintings, watercolours & drawings by Paul Cézanne (1839–1906). Famously referred to as the ‘greatest of us all’ by Claude Monet, Cézanne remains a pivotal figure in the direction of modern art who gave licence to generations of artists to break the rules. Created amid a rapidly accelerating world, his works focus on the local & the everyday, concentrating on the artist’s own personal experiences to make sense of the chaos & uncertainty of modern life. The exhibition brings together around eighty works and features key examples of his still-life paintings, Provençale landscapes, portraits & scenes of bathers, such as The Basket of Apples and Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Paul Cézanne: Still Life with Fruit Dish
Still Life with Fruit Dish

The exhibition tells the story of a young ambitious painter from Aix-en-Provence determined to succeed as an artist in Paris, yet constantly rejected by the art establishment. It traces Cézanne’s artistic development from early paintings made in his twenties, such as the striking portrait Scipio, through to works completed in the final months of his life, such as Seated Man. Highlights include a room of paintings depicting the limestone mountain Sainte-Victoire, charting the dramatic evolution of his style through this single motif. Another gallery brings together several magnificent examples of Cézanne’s paintings of bathers, a lifelong subject for the artist, including Bathers, one of his largest & most celebrated paintings, created in the final stage of his career.

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While Cézanne himself was as interested in long traditions of painting as much as in its modernist future, it’s simply not possible to envision 20th-century avant-garde art without Cézanne’s influence. He approached painting as a technically rigorous yet deeply personal search for truth in art making. And in the process he upended the conventions of artifice in European painting, laying bare the components of colour & brushwork used to compose images, and establishing the fundamentals of what would become cubism, Fauvism, and non-objective art.


Paul Cézanne is one of the most highly regarded & enigmatic artists of the late 19th century. His work has always strongly resonated with other artists, and this legacy continues into the present day. Visitors to Tate Modern will discover the events, places & relationships that shaped Cézanne’s life & work. To find out more, please consult the exhibition guide, which explores the exhibition room by room.


While Cézanne is often mythologized as a solitary figure, the exhibition spotlights the relationships central to his life, particularly the ones with his wife Marie-Hortense Fiquet & their son Paul, immortalized in paintings such as Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair and Portrait of the Artist’s Son. It examines Cézanne’s intense relationship with childhood friend Émile Zola and reveals how peers such as Claude Monet & Camille Pissarro were among the first to appreciate his unique vision. Many great artists even collected Cézanne’s works, with previous owners including Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse & Henry Moore.


Still Life with Fruit Dish was once owned by Paul Gauguin, who painted it in the background of his own painting Woman in Front of a Still Life by Cézanne. Gauguin described Cézanne’s painting as ‘an exceptional pearl, the apple of my eye’. It was only when he needed money for medical care that he unhappily parted with it.