Great Art Bad Reviews Paul Cezanne's Paintings

About Paul Cezanne's paintings, a great work of art which was originally given bad reviews.


Cezanne's Paintings

The Works: French painter Paul Cezanne was given a special exhibition at the 1904 Salon d'Automne in Paris, two years before his death. Among the paintings shown were Mardi Gras (1888), The Blue Vase (1883-1887), and Portrait of Victor Chocquet (1879-1882).

The Critics Speak: Cezanne's work, with its thick paint and primitive, impressionistic style, was far from what the critics at the turn of the century admired. Although many young, avant-garde artists regarded Cezanne as their "sage," critics were disgusted with the 1904 exhibition. Even the fact that the salon's catalogue was in alphabetical order caused an uproar, for it meant that Cezanne's name appeared before that of a more "distinguished" colleague, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.

From Le Petit Parisien, by Valensol: "He chooses to daub paint on a canvas and spread it around with a comb or a toothbrush. This process produces landscapes, marines, still lifes, portraits... if he is lucky. The procedure somewhat recalls the designs that schoolchildren make by squeezing the heads of flies between the folds of a sheet of paper."

Wrote one nameless critic in La Lanterne: "Cezanne is nothing but a lamentable failure. Perhaps he has ideas, but he is incapable of expressing them. He seems not to know even the first principles of his craft."

Sarradin, in Les Debats, said: "The impression given by all these clumsily daubed portraits is truly painful; they bear witness to a fatal impotence."

Le Say in L'Univers called the paintings "false... brutal... mad ...[a] chamber of horrors."

History Speaks: Cezanne's reputation and fame have increased steadily since his death. His work was inspirational to artists such as Picasso in his development of Cubism, and today Cezanne is recognized as a master.

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