Arbres et maisons

Paul Cézanne
Arbres et maisons
Vers 1885
huile sur toile
H. 54 ; L. 73 cm avec cadre H. 53,8 ; L. 46,8 ; P. 9,5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de l'Orangerie) / Hervé Lewandowski
Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906)

In this Provence landscape we can make out houses amidst two patches of leafless trees. The subject of the painting is actually a hamlet located near to Le Jas de Bouffan, the Cézanne family residence near Aix-en-Provence. The tree trunks are treated with a dark array of colours and stand out from the countryside background and the very light-coloured houses. The houses are sketched out schematically while the traditional perspective tends to fade away into the landscape where layering of the back, mid, and foregrounds becomes blurred. Nonetheless, by playing with vertical, horizontal and slanting lines, this composition might be referencing certain landscapes by Pissaro (1830-1903), who was close to Cézanne. This subject went on to inspire three paintings by Cézanne. One of them, currently conserved at the New York Metropolitan Museum, has very subtle differences in framing and construction of space but remains very close. Painted directly from nature, the New York version had been acquired by Paul Guillaume around 1929 before being ceded to a buyer by means of his gallery. It was probably out of the memory of this painting that Domenica, Paul Guillaume's widow, later purchased the Musée de l’Orangerie version. As for the other version, today it is conserved at the Nasjonalmuseet for kunst in Oslo, Norway. This last version seems more incomplete and adopts a different point of view on the landscape with a very dull array of hues.

Artwork not currently exhibited in the museum