lundi 27 août 2012

«Les Grandes Baigneuses» (1906) de Paul Cézanne

Paul Cezanne

  «Les Grandes Baigneuses» (1906) de Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906).

«Les Grandes Baigneuses» (1906) de Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906).

Oil on canvas
82 7/8 x 98 3/4 inches (210.5 x 250.8 cm)

This is the largest, the last, and in many ways, the most ambitious work from Cézanne’s lifelong exploration of the time-honored theme of nudes in a landscape. It is also, perhaps, in its unfinished state, the purest and most serene witness to the man whom Paul Gauguin described as spending “entire days on mountaintops reading Virgil,” dreaming of wooded glades populated with beautiful figures who, if not exactly participants in a narrative as such, are full of animation and interaction. Perhaps it is its grand nobility—its authority as something beyond time, “like art in the museums,” as Cézanne said—that made it so attractive to many artists.

Near the end of his life Paul Cézanne painted three large canvases of female nudes disporting in a landscape. They derive in part from pastoral images of female bathers, such as the goddess Diana and her maidens, long favored in French art. These works seem to have been, for Cézanne, the culmination of a lifetime of exploration on the nude, his final testament within the grand tradition of French narrative painting on the nature of the human condition. They differ greatly from one another, these three paintings (the others are in the Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania, and the National Gallery, London). The Philadelphia version, perhaps because of its unfinished state, is both the most exalted and the most serene. The women command a great stage, very much like goddesses in some grand opera production, with the arched trees acting as the proscenium. They are completely at ease, and for all the motion and activity there is a profound sense of eternal calm and resolution, as well as a quality of monumentality achieved through the most lucid and unlabored means. Joseph J. Rishel, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 211.

Estate of Paul Cézanne, 1906; purchased by Ambroise Vollard, Paris from Cézanne's son, 1907; Auguste Pellerin (1852-1929), Paris, by 1923; by descent to his son Jean-Victor Pellerin, Paris, 1929-1936 [1]; with Wildenstein & Co., New York, acting as agent for Pellerin, 1936 [2]; sold to the City of Philadelphia for the W. P. Wilstach Collection, July 6, 1937 [3]. 1. Lent by M. and Mme. Pellerin to the 1936 exhibition "Cézanne", Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, no. 107. 2. Provenance per John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, no. 857. See also Joseph Rishel, Cézanne in Philadelphia Collections, Philadelphia, 1983, p. xvi. 3. Copy of dated receipt in registrar file.

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