Paul Cézanne: Old Master, Modernist or Both?


Roger Fry, the artist and critic responsible for bringing modern art to Britain before the First World War, thought Cézanne was “the great originator of the whole idea.” By this he meant the expression of the abstract qualities of painting at the expense of narrative and illusion. In fact, Cézanne, who was fascinated both by the old masters, and working directly from nature, said he hoped to create a new link in the history of art.

While Cezanne’s love of Poussin is well known, he also studied a wide range of old masters, from El Greco to Delacroix, who influenced him particularly through his use of colour.

This lecture series will aim to explore these and other aspects of Cézanne’s work, in the light of the new exhibition to be held at Tate Modern in the autumn, and the view of Cézanne it presents.

Programme details

Wednesdays, 2pm–3.30pm GMT (UTC)

Wednesday 9th November

Early Cézanne. His Relationship with the History of art and with Modernism.

Wednesday 16th November

Cézanne and Impressionism. New ideas about Colour.

Wednesday 23rd November

Cézanne and the Study of Nature. The Importance of the Motif.

Wednesday 30th November 

Re-interpreting the Classical Tradition and what it meant at the end of the Nineteenth Century.

Wednesday 7th December

Cézanne and his Influence. Was Roger Fry right about Cézanne’s Pictorial Revolution? 


Description Costs
Tuition fee £100.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Mrs Mary Acton


Mary Acton, now retired Course Director of the Undergraduate Diploma in the History of Art, continues to teach at the Department and works as a freelance lecturer. She is the author of Learning to Look at Paintings [1997 and 2008] Learning to look at Modern Art [2004] and Learning to look at Sculpture [2014], all published by Routledge.

IT requirements

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment. You'll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Teams interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.