When Cézanne started painting in the 1860s, he worked primarily in the studio on figural compositions and still lifes. But the allure of the countryside soon drew his attention, and under the guidance of Camille Pissarro, with whom he painted in Pontoise and Auvers between 1872 and 1873, Cézanne fully embraced working regularly en plein air (in the open air).
This sunlit scene shows the extent to which the artist absorbed the lessons of impressionism, of capturing the visual sensations of nature with modulated brushwork that examines the relationship between color and light. The thin application of paint, with spots of canvas showing through, contributes to the light-soaked appearance of the scene. A bright palette of predominantly yellows and greens unifies the composition, while Cézanne’s distinct brushwork—with horizontal strokes creating the mirrored surface of the river and short parallel strokes forming much of the foliage—results in a cohesive, rhythmic surface.
The exact location of the setting has not been identified, but the theme of buildings nestled along a river landscape was one Cézanne returned to frequently.