Musée d'Orsay: Paul Cézanne Maincy Bridge

Paul Cézanne
Maincy Bridge

Pont de Maincy [Maincy Bridge]
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Pont de Maincy [Maincy Bridge]
Circa 1879
Oil on canvas
H. 58.5; W. 72.5 cm

Pont de Maincy [Maincy Bridge]

Maincy Bridge is an unusual painting in Cézanne's oeuvre. Problems of dating and identifying the site have long heightened the ambiguity surrounding it. It is now agreed that it was painted late in 1879 or early in the following year. Indeed Cézanne is known to have lived at Melun at that time and the Maincy bridge is nearby.

At a time when he was moving away from Impressionism, very few of Cezanne's paintings are so spattered with light. We can feel the air moving through the space and watch the water playing with myriad reflections. Yet the long straight brushstrokes, angled like crosshatching in a drawing, conjure up the sensual poetry of his latest works.

At the beginning of the 1880s, a new language was developing in the way the paint was laid on the canvas. This new "treatment", which was later constantly explored and extended, especially in landscape painting, here finds a sort of perfect demonstration. The interaction between space and mass, form and reflection achieves a strict balance, both powerful and delicate, within a rigorously structured pictorial plane.

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