Paul Cézanne
(Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence)
Landscape, ca. 1879
Oil on canvas, 54 x 73 cm
Rewald 412
If the "Temptation of Saint Anthony" was characterized by self-torment, inner discord and forlornness, this landscape, executed by the end of the 1870's, reflects harmony and inner balance. Cézanne had undergone a tremendous transformation. After the Franco-Prussian War, during which he had lived quietly in L’Estaque, he had actively participated, as a friend and colleague especially close to Pissarro and Guillaumin in Paris and in Auvers, in developping the new approaches and insights of the young painters who were soon to be called Impressionists. In Auvers and Pontoise he went in search for motives together with Pissarro with whom he got along perfectly. The landscape was now for him no longer a stage for dramatic action, as in the "Thaw at L’Estaque", but he now painted it where it was most unobtrusive, where he could most easily merge with its indwelling spirit and then objectify it in paint.
The landscape painting in the Bührle collection, whose former identification with a landscape in the Provence has been dropped by Rewald, offers no dominant theme, no towering mountain, merely a gently inclined hilly tract, no imposing masses of trees, only insignificant growth, which Cézanne reproduces by means of light stippling. The houses are reduced to tiny huts and serve merely as orientation points in the rolling landscape. As always with Cézanne – in contrast to his friend Pissarro – this landscape is deserted but not untouched by man. Cézanne does not sit before it, he is alone with it, immersed in its brilliance. It is owed to such paintings that we may call Cézanne an Impressionist.