image: Cezanne in Provence image: National Gallery of Art image: Cezanne in Provence

image: Montagne Sainte-Victoire Seen from Les Lauves,1902–1904, oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art; The George W. Elkins Collection, 1936
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Audio (1:56 mins., MP3 2.66MB) | Transcript
Audio Tour©2006 Acoustiguide Inc.
Motif: Late Landscapes

It is in his late, extraordinary paintings of Sainte-Victoire that Cézanne's obsession with the mountain reached its culmination. Between 1902 and 1906 he painted nine major oils and numerous watercolors from virtually the same spot, a hillside called La Marguerite above his studio at Les Lauves. (The road between the studio and La Marguerite itself provided material for some of Cézanne's last landscapes, including The Bend in the Road, 1902–1906.) Quite distinct from the earlier classical views of Sainte-Victoire, these vibrant works draw their power from animated brushwork and vivid coloring, often with passages left unpainted. In Montagne Sainte-Victoire Seen from Les Lauves, 1902–1904, motifs such as the mountain, trees, and houses are constructed out of patches of color to create a faceted pattern that verges on dissolving into pure abstraction. The patches make the canvas seem alive with movement and lay bare the painstaking process by which Cézanne translated his sensory experience of nature—its color, light, and spatial dimensions—onto the two-dimensional picture plane. As he noted late in life, “To read nature is to see means of color patches, following upon each other according to a law of harmony.... To paint is to record the sensations of color.”

In 1906, writing to his son, Cézanne declared, “I have sworn to myself to die painting.” Within a month he fell sick after being caught in the rain for several hours while painting The Cabanon de Jourdan, 1906, outdoors. He died in Aix a few days later at the age of sixty-seven, on the eve of the revolution in art that his work had firmly set in motion.

«Motif: Trees | Chronology: 1839–1906»