Courtauld to show Cézanne it did not know it had

The drawing was “discovered” in 1981

LONDON. A Cézanne which was simply “found” in the Courtauld Gallery collection in 1981 is to go on show later this month. Study of a Tree, a drawing of 1885-87, seems to have been discovered in a solander box in the storeroom in Woburn Place, where the gallery was then based.

The catalogue raisonné of Cézanne drawings by Adrien Chappuis, published in 1983, records the owner of Study of a Tree as “unknown”, giving the previous one as Kenneth Clark. He had been director of the National Gallery, Surveyor of the King’s Pictures, chairman of the Arts Council and presenter of the television series “Civilisation”. Lord Clark was a great admirer of Cézanne, acquiring more than 20 of his drawings.

Study of a Tree was found at the Courtauld two years before Lord Clark’s death in 1983. Following our enquiries, the gallery has found no evidence of how the drawing arrived and Lord Clark made no known gifts to the gallery.

The Nazi-era provenance of the drawing is now being examined. According to Chappuis, Study of a Tree was owned by Margarete Oppenheim of Berlin, and was sold in a Böhler auction in Munich on 18-20 May 1936. She had died two years earlier and her property passed to her son and daughter, who fled Nazi Germany before the war.

Study of a Tree is one of the Courtauld’s nine Cézanne works on paper (which for conservation reasons are only shown occasionally) and nine oil paintings, all of which are going on show together for the first time, in an exhibition opening on 26 June (until 5 October). These include works rarely shown, like the unfinished late painting The Turning Road, as well as masterpieces, such as a Montagne Sainte-Victoire landscape. M.B.

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