Paul Cézanne
Bathers

Bathers
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Bathers
Circa 1890
Oil on canvas
H. 60; W. 82 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Baigneurs [Bathers]


From the 1870s until the end of his life, Cézanne multiplied paintings of bathers, both male and female. His great ambition was to achieve a complete fusion of the human figure and the landscape.

Each element is given the same importance in a sort of common architecture. The artist dos not focus on the flesh, as Renoir did, but rather on the bodies which powerfully structure the space. The theme of water is left aside and the world of the painting remains essentially mineral. Only the smooth, delicately iridescent substance of the clouds recalls Cezanne's attachment to Impressionism.

"[He] was moving towards the abstraction of natural bodies, because he saw in them only surfaces and pictorial volumes," commented Malevich. The references to the Renaissance, the standing male figure holding a drapery, which seems to have been inspired by a Signorelli drawing, and the monumental arrangement which takes its model from Poussin, reveal a very strong desire to create "museum art" which will stand the test of time.




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