In The Artist's Father Cézanne explored his emotionally charged relationship with his banker father. Tension is particularly evident in the energetic, expressive paint handling, an exaggeration of Courbet's palette knife technique. The unyielding figure of Louis-Auguste Cézanne, the newspaper he is reading, his chair, and the room are described with obtrusively thick slabs of pigment.
The Artist's Father can be interpreted as an assertion of Cézanne's independence. During the early 1860s, Cézanne rejected the legal and banking careers advocated by his father and instead studied art, a profession his father considered grossly impractical. In this calculated composition, he seated his father precariouly near the edge of the chair and tilted the perspectival slope of the floor as though trying to tip his father out of the picture, an effect heightened by the contrast between his father's heavy legs and shoes and the delicate feet of the chair supporting him. The framed painting displayed on the back wall is a still life that Cézanne painted shortly before The Artist's Father, a statement of his artistic accomplishment. The newspaper L'Evénement refers to novelist Emile Zola, the childhood friend who championed Cézanne's bid to study art in Paris and who became art critic for the paper in 1866. Cézanne's father customarily read another journal.
Marks and Labels
(Ambroise Vollard [1867-1939], Paris). Auguste Pellerin [1952-1929], Paris; by inheritance to René Lecomte, Paris; Lecomte family collection; Mme. Louis de Chaisemartin, née Germaine Charlotte Lecomte; sold 1970 through (Hector Brame, Paris) to NGA.
- Probably Salon of 1882, Paris, no. 520 as Portrait de M.L.A....
- Cezanne, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, 1936, no. 3
- Hommage a Cézanne, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, 1954, no. 8, repro.
- Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist
- Cézanne: The Early Years, Royal Academy of Arts, London; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1988-1989, no. 21, repro.
- Origins of Impressionism, Galeries nationales d'Exposition du Grand Palais, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994-1995, no. 26, fig. 264, repro., as Portrait de Louis-Auguste Cézanne.
- An Enduring Legacy: Masterpieces from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1999-2000, no cat.
- Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro 1865-1885, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 2005-2006, pl. 2, fig. 23, as The Artist's Father (shown only in New York).
- Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 2011, no. 8, repro.
- Venturi, Lionello. Cezanne, son art, son oeuvre. 2 vols. Paris, 1936.
- Orienti 1970, no.67.
- Walker, John. "The National Gallery of Art, Washington: The Founding Benefactors." The Connoisseur 178, no. 718 (December 1971): cover, title page, color repro.
- Hours, Madeleine. "Cézanne's Portrait of His Father." Studies in the History of Art v.4 (1971-72):63-76, repro., and note 77-80.
- Rewald, John. "Cézanne and His Father." Studies in the History of Art v.4 (1971-72):38-62, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 62, repro.
- King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 91, pl. 54.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 500, no. 743, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 82, repro.
- Gingold, Diane J. and Elizabeth A.C. Weil. The Corporate Patron. New York, 1991: 12, 98, 99, color repro.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 277, 282, repros.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 186, repro.
- Rewald, John. The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: a catalogue raisonné. 2 vols. New York, 1996:no. 101, repro.
- Kelder, Diane. The Great Book of French Impressionism, 1997, no. 360, repro.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 388-389, no. 323, color repro.
- Brodie, Judith. Shock of the News. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2012:
- Humphries, Oscar. "Editor's Letter: Taxing Questions.' Apollo 175, no. 599 (June 2012): 23, repro.
- Harris, Neil. Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience. Chicago and London, 2013: 408-409.