In the last years of his life, Paul Cézanne produced a stunning series of watercolors, many of them still lifes. Still Life with Blue Pot is one of these late masterpieces; it is now in the collection of the Getty Museum.
In Cézanne in the Studio: Still Life in Watercolors, Carol Armstrong places this great painting within the context of Cézanne's artistic and psychological development and of the history of the genre of still life in France. Still lifelike the medium of watercolorwas traditionally considered to be "low" in the hierarchy of French academic painting. Cézanne chose to ignore this hierarchy, creating monumental still-life watercolors that contained echoes of grand landscapes and even historical paintings in the manner of Poussinthe "highest" of classical art forms. In so doing, he charged his still lifes with new meanings, both in terms of his own notoriously difficult personality and in the way he used the genre to explore the very process of looking at, and creating, art.
Carol Armstrong's studypublished to coincide with an exhibition at the Getty Museum from October 12, 2004 to January 2, 2005is a fascinating exploration of the brilliant watercolor paintings that brought Cézanne's career to a complex and triumphant conclusion. The book includes new photographic studies of the Getty's painting that allow the reader to encounter this great watercolor as never beforein its full richness and detail.
Carol Armstrong is professor of art and archaeology at Princeton University, where she is also Doris Stevens Professor of Women's Studies. Among her most recent books are Manet Manette and A Degas Sketchbook. With Catherine de Zegher, she is the editor of the forthcoming Ocean Flowers: Impressions from Nature.
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