Mount Sainte-Victoire with a Large Pine
Paul Cézanne, Mount Sainte-Victoire with a Large Pine,1887. Oil on canvas, 66.8 x 92.3 cm, P.1934.SC.55.
In the catalogue for the 1910 London exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists, the art critic and curator Roger Fry wrote that Cézanne ‘showed how it was possible to pass from the complexity of the appearance of things to the geometrical simplicity which design demands’.
So whilst Cézanne focused mainly on the landscape around his home town, he turns this landscape into a study of form and colour.
Whereas the Impressionists painted with thick, short brushstrokes, shimmering colours and no outlines, Cézanne used blocks of strong colour, prominently outlining forms such as the tree trunk and the fields in dark blue.
His interest in form and line is emphasised in the shape of the branches and the way in which they perfectly echo the outline of the mountain behind.
Cézanne’s simplification of the landscape could be interpreted as a return to an era of balanced, harmonious form rather than complex ornamentation, as well as a leap towards Modernism: the structured parallel brushstrokes that fragment the surface of the composition, as well as the bold colours, appealed to younger artists and paved the way towards abstraction.
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Michael Morpurgo reads from Meeting Cézanne, a short story set in the Provence countryside (The Guardian) on The Guardian website