Mount Sainte-Victoire with a Large Pine

In a 1904 letter to his painter-friend Émile Bernard, Cézanne famously claimed that nature should be treated in terms of three-dimensional geometric shapes.

Cézanne saw the purpose and effect of every aspect of his composition: horizontal lines created breadth and vertical ones suggested depth.

Whereas Renaissance painters had carefully concealed their under-drawing, leaving a highly finished surface that seemed to suggest that the painting was not in fact a canvas at all, but reality itself, Cézanne leaves many areas of his canvas roughly painted, with his sketchy outlines showing through: look in particular at the fields in the foreground.

Concerning colour, Cézanne wrote that blue created atmosphere, whilst yellows and reds reflected the play of light; he uses those colours here to suggest the warm, sunny climate of the southern regions of France.

Cézanne’s painting is as much about paint and canvas as it is about subject matter.