The Letters of Paul Cézanne

About the Author

Alex Danchev is professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham and the author of a number of acclaimed biographies, including Cézanne: A Life and Georges Braque: A Life.

The Letters of Paul Cézanne

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Alex Danchev

This new translation of Cézanne’s letters includes more than 20 that were previously unpublished and reproduces the sketches and caricatures with which Cézanne occasionally illustrated his words. The letters shed light on some of the key artistic relationships of the modern period—about one third of Cézanne’s more than 250 letters are to his boyhood companion Émile Zola, and he communicated extensively with Camille Pissarro and the dealer Ambroise Vollard. The translation is richly annotated with explanatory notes, and, for the first time, the letters are cross-referenced to the current catalogue raisonné. Numerous inaccuracies and archaisms in the previous English edition of the letters are corrected, and many intriguing passages that were unaccountably omitted have been restored. The result is a publishing landmark that ably conveys Cézanne’s intricacy of expression.


Revered and misunderstood by his peers and lauded by later generations as the father of modern art, Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) has long been a subject of fascination for artists and art lovers, writers, poets, and philosophers. His life was a ceaseless artistic quest, and he channeled much of his wide-ranging intellect and ferocious wit into his letters. Punctuated by exasperated theorizing and philosophical reflection, outbursts of creative ecstasy and melancholic confession, the artist’s correspondence reveals both the heroic and all-too-human qualities of a man who is indisputably among the pantheon of all-time greats.

  • Hardcover
  • 6.625 x 9.25 inches
  • 400 pages, 12 color and 65 b+w illustrations
  • Published: 2013


Book of the Year, Apollo Magazine, 2013


Editorial Reviews

“In this definitive volume of his letters, which is beautifully illustrated and with richly informative and sensible footnotes, Cézanne himself appears in a number of different tones. He is a young penniless artist afraid of his rich father. . . . He is . . . the dreamy poet, writing to his close friend Émile Zola about his hopes as an artist. . . . He is also ambitious, measuring himself against his contemporaries.” —Irish Times

“An exemplary piece of accessible scholarship.” —Apollo

“Cézanne’s Letters elucidate his frustrations, thinking, friendships (especially with Zola), and ambitions. . . . Recommended.” —Choice

This publication is a major achievement.” —Artforum

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