Sunday, May 22

Art. A rare early drawing by Cézanne found and offered at auction

A rare early drawing by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), which seemed to have disappeared for decades, has recently been “rediscovered” and will be auctioned in March in Reims, the Ivoire auction house announced on Monday. . This drawing in pen, brown ink and pencil, represents a standing soldier, helmeted, in profile and facing a seated old woman.

Auctioned on March 13, the work is estimated between 20,000 and 30,000 euros.

A double-sided drawing

It was made around 1856-1860, when the painter was between 17 and 21 years old, in a notebook that he then shared with his younger sister, Marie. It is double-sided: it bears Cézanne’s work on the back, and on the front a drawing by Marie Cézanne, of a landscape and a Calvary in black pencil, as well as a handwritten inscription by the painter’s grandson, Jean -Pierre Cezanne. “The drawing opposite is an original drawing by my grandfather,” he wrote.

Originally containing 18 sheets, the notebook was passed on to the son, then to the grandson of Cézanne, before being dismembered at an “unknown date”, losing part of his drawings, details the Ivoire house. It was then donated in 1962 to the Bezalel National Museum in Jerusalem by an American collector. It then contained twelve drawings by Paul Cézanne, but not “the soldier and the old woman”.

We don’t know how he got there.

“We lost track of this drawing after Jean-Pierre Cézanne. Perhaps it passed into the hands of Henry Pearlman, without certainty, ”explains the expert responsible for authenticating it, Marc-Henri Tellier. The drawing was finally “found a few years ago” by the auctioneer Thierry Collet during an estate inventory in the South of France. “We don’t know how he got there,” says Mr. Tellier.

An expertise first concludes with a fake

After an initial appraisal that did not conclude that it was an original, the drawing was shown to Mr. Tellier, who noticed significant “similarities with other early works by the painter”. He will succeed in “authenticating it with certainty” after two years of research, with the help in particular of the Cézanne company and the art historian Fabienne Ruppen. “There are a few early drawings by Cézanne in museums, but quite a few. This type of work makes it possible to see the inspirations of the artist”, who worked in particular from works of old masters, specifies the expert.

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