OXFORD.- The Ashmolean
opens its 2014 exhibitions programme with Cézanne and the Modern, the first European display of the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. It features fifty works by nineteen artists from Gustave Courbet to Jacques Lipchitz, and includes an outstanding group of paintings and watercolours by Paul Cézanne.
Henry Pearlman (18951974) was a New York City businessman who founded his company, Eastern Cold Storage, in 1919. He began collecting European avant-garde art in 1945 when he bought a landscape by Chaïm Soutine. In the following thirty years, until the end of his life, Pearlman was a passionate collector, acquiring further works by Soutine and hunting down rare pieces by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masters. After his death in 1974, the collection was managed by Henry Pearlmans wife, Rose, who died in 1994, and has, since the mid-1970s, been on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey.
The heart of the collection is twenty-four works by Cézanne: six oils; two drawings; and sixteen watercolours which constitute one of the finest and best-preserved groups of Cézanne watercolours in the world. They span the whole of the artists career from the 1870s up to the monumental Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit made shortly before his death in 1906. Another beautiful example is Three Pears (late-1880s) which Edgar Degas won in a bidding war with August Renoir in 1895. The majority of the watercolours are Provençal landscapes, while others depict characteristic Cézanne motifs including a skull, female bathers, and his beloved Mont Sainte-Victoire.
Cézanne and the Modern also explores the history of twentieth-century private collections of this type. Key to the Pearlman Collection is Henry Pearlmans own tastes. He collected pictures and sculptures that he liked and his thrill at discovering unknown masterpieces is evident throughout. Star pictures include a colourful and unusual composition by Vincent Van Gogh, Tarascon Diligence (1888); Amedeo Modiglianis celebrated portrait of Jean Cocteau (191617); and among the sculptures are three bronzes by Jacques Lipchitz and one by Wilhelm Lehmbruck; and an extraordinary painted relief, Te Fare Amu (1901-2) by Paul Gauguin.
Professor Christopher Brown CBE, Director of the Ashmolean, says: The Ashmolean is honoured to be the first European venue to show the world-renowned Pearlman Collection. We are also very pleased to be working with another great university museum the Princeton University Art Museum and hope that this landmark exhibition will establish links with colleagues in Princeton for the future.
Mr Colin Harrison, Senior Curator of European Art, Ashmolean Museum, says: CÉzanne and the Modern offers visitors the opportunity to see extraordinary masterpieces by some of the most famous artists of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements. Although individual works have occasionally been included in monographic exhibitions, this is the first time that this most individual collection has been exhibited in Europe. Apart from the amazing paintings and watercolours by Cézanne, it includes wonderful works by artists who are little known in England, notably Chaïm Soutine, who was a particular favourite of the Pearlmans.