The Easel

How Cezanne rescued the portrait: the UK’s exhibition of the year

Isolated in Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne struggled to express in paint what he truly saw. This quest impacted his portraits just as much as his famed landscapes. Early youthful romanticism give way to later exuberant use of colour. And then came his multiple portraits of his wife, “by turns casual and straightforward, stylised into flattened shapes … complex and dissonant”. Beyond this “painterly evolution” lay the path to modern art.