Cezanne makes many new friends

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The exhibition likely to break all previous records for British art shows was yesterday overwhelmed by devotees offered a sneak preview and forced to keep its doors open late, writes James Cusick.

Friends of the Tate, the elite fans who qualify for private showings, turned up in their thousands and queued for up to two and half hours to see the new Cezanne exhibition which officially opens at the central London gallery today. The exhibition of the work of the French post-impressionist painter comes to London after being shown in Paris.

Despite the pounds 7 entry fee, the highest ever for an exhibition in Britain, advance sales have passed 30,000.

The paintings and drawings on view are regarded as the most important survey of Cezanne's work for more than 50 years. Agencies handling advance ticket sale are reported to be astonished at demand.