Musée d'Orsay: Paul Cézanne Rocks above Château Noir

Paul Cézanne
Rocks above Château Noir

Rocks near the caves above Château Noir
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Rocks near the caves above Château Noir
Circa 1904
Oil on canvas
H. 65; W. 54 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Rochers près des grottes au-dessus de Château-Noir [Rocks near the caves above Château Noir]

In the 1890s, missing the light and harsh landscapes of Provence, Cézanne was drawn back to the place where he was born, and remained there for the rest of his life. The Mont Sainte-Victoire, the site of the Château-Noir and the Bibémus quarries, constantly reappear in the paintings he undertook around the turn of the century. He continued this fervent, solitary experiment until he died. In these silent landscapes, sometimes with unusual framings, the actual subject becomes irrelevant: in this case, it is a pile of rocks and a few tree trunks.
The old painter's sensitivity was distilled into a global vision that he concentrated into smaller paintings. In these, he devoted his time to a kind of euphoria where forms and colours became one and the same transcription. This increasingly subtle, timeless vision is constructed as a vibrant orchestration of frenzied marks and of allusive brushstrokes. Form is deconstructed into multiple facets. Colour contributes to this lyricism with transparent blues, greens, browns and mauves. At the beginning of the century, Cezanne's unique approach became one of the essential foundations of modern painting.
Matisse, who acquired and took great care of this landscape, confirmed "There are, as you can see in Cezanne's work, laws of structure which are very useful to a young painter. He had, along with the greatest painters, this distinction of wanting colours to be a force within a painting, thus setting himself the highest goal as a painter. ("Conversation with Henri Matisse", Living Art, No. 15 September 1925).

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