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Paul Cézanne

Bend in a Road in Provence


Paul Cézanne
Aix-en-Provence 1839 – Aix-en-Provence 1906


Bend in a Road in Provence


About 1866 or later


Oil on canvas


92.4 x 72.5 cm


Adaline Van Horne Bequest, inv. 1945.872


Western Art

This is Cézanne’s first large landscape. Cézanne was still an unknown artist aspiring to be a visionary. In Paris – where he had the support, albeit with a certain scepticism, of the future Impressionists, who had already committed themselves to landscape painting – he was looked upon as a lad from the south, rough mannered, reclusive, passionate and tempestuous. Back in his native territory for the summer, the environs of Aix-en-Provence, he would paint out of doors like the Barbizon School. Although the perspective opening onto a road offers a commonplace point of view, no figure or animal, no picturesque detail enlivens this scene. Cézanne constructed his perspective with large areas of colour, openly and frontally juxtaposing the blues, whites, blacks and greens that were then the basis of his palette. He smoothed the broad impastos with his spatula, building up a solid, bold and disciplined way of painting that recalls Courbet. Because of its size, this canvas exceeds the boundaries of a sketch to become a full-fledged finished work. In this regard, Cézanne was following examples recently shown at the Salon by Pissarro, his loyal and supportive friend, with whom he would soon pursue landscape painting.

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