Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) Arbres au Jas de Bouffan (Executed circa 1892 - 1895)

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Lot 30
Paul Cézanne
Arbres au Jas de Bouffan

£ 100,000 - 150,000
US$ 130,000 - 190,000
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Arbres au Jas de Bouffan
pencil on paper
32 x 49.2cm (12 5/8 x 19 3/8in).
Executed circa 1892 - 1895


  • This work will be included in the forthcoming online catalogue raisonné of Paul Cézanne's works on paper, under the direction of Walter Feichenfeldt, David Nash and Jayne Warman.

    Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin (1927).
    Professor Hans Purmann Collection, Zurich (acquired from the above).
    Heidi Voellmoeller Collection, Zurich (a gift from the above by 1956).
    Private collection, New York; their sale, Christie's, Paris, 31 March 2016, lot 64.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Cézanne, Acquarelle und Zeichnungen; Bronzen von Edgar Degas, 19 May - 16 June 1927, no. 44 (titled 'Bäume').
    The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Paul Cézanne, June – July 1956, no. 105 (later travelled to Zurich & Munich; nos. 162 & 123).
    Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, Cézanne, 30 March – 19 May 1974, no. 124 (later travelled to Kyoto & Fukuoka; titled 'Arbres').
    Tubingen, Kunsthalle, Paul Cézanne, Das zeichnerische Werk, 21 October - 31 December 1978, no. 105 (titled 'Baumlandschaft').
    Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Cézanne, le chant de la terre, 16 June - 19 November 2017, no. 38.

    A. Chappuis, The Drawings of Paul Cézanne, a Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, London, 1973, no. 1163 (illustrated Vol. II).

    'I am deeply touched by the letter you were so kind as to write me. Nothing could be more agreeable to me than to know that, in the depths of your solitude, you are aware of the commotion that's been made over Homage to Cézanne. Perhaps you will now have some idea of the place you occupy in the painting of our time, of the admiration you inspire, and of the enlightened enthusiasm of a few young people, myself included, who can rightly call themselves your students, because it is to you they are indebted for whatever they have understood about painting; and we will never be able to thank you enough for it.' – (Maurice Denis in a letter to Paul Cézanne, 13 June 1901, quoted in J. Watkins (ed.), Cézanne, Philadelphia, 1996, p. 35)

    Depicting an inexact location on his family's estate of Jas de Bouffan, the meticulous draughtsmanship that forms the interlocking branches and tree trunks that frame the image, render the present work instantly recognisable as by the hand of Paul Cézanne. These iconic motifs that represent his home in southern France can be seen throughout the artist's oeuvre and in the work of many artists that followed in his wake, as Maurice Denis states in his touching letter to Cézanne.

    As was often the case for artists of his time, after leaving the Free Municipal School of Drawing in Aix, Cézanne sought inspiration in Paris. He spent his time visiting the Louvre and teaching himself from the Masters within its walls, copying the works of Titian, Rubens and Michelangelo, a link most evident in his early paintings. In addition to engrossing himself in the Masters of the past, his drawing lessons at the Académie Suisse introduced him to some of the titans that are admired so greatly today; the likes of Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. During this period, he often imitated Gustave Courbet's use of the palette knife to apply his paint and Edouard Manet's sensitive touches of black and white, his concentration and commitment to spontaneity becomes paramount.

    Perhaps most importantly, it is here in the mid-1860s that he begins his close relationship with Pissarro. It was a companionship that initially formed as that of the tutor and pupil, with Pissarro asserting a hugely beneficial influence over the impressionable younger artist. He learned to subdue his aggressive structuring and appreciate the philosophy and technique of Impressionism. Their frequent country excursions to paint accelerated Cézanne's ability and in the years 1877 to 1888 we can see his adaptation and modification of the Impressionist style, a change that Patrick T. Malone of the Art Institute of Chicago identified, perhaps unintentionally fittingly, in Cézanne's work The Turn in the Road (c.1881, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). The use of a stronger framework of lines, the bold trunks of the trees and extended strokes that create a three-dimensional landscape are all key components of Cézanne's style, all of which can be identified, arguably in a more mature and refined fashion in the present work, roughly a decade later. Like so many artists, particularly in this era, Cézanne sought light, air and landscape, which resulted in his leaving the city and moving to the countryside, if not solely for his artistic endeavours, then perhaps due to his fluctuating temperament and provincial origins. He wanted total seclusion, a seclusion he found in the pastoral idyll at Jas de Bouffan.

    This Southern French sanctuary offered the solitary artist a host of motifs, and whilst he often painted the local inhabitants and workers, in the majority of his later period he painted landscapes almost exclusively. Arguably it is in these assertive landscapes that his mastery of draughtsmanship is at its height. He often returned to the same locations, most notably to the rows of trees on his family estate as well as the sprawling view towards Mont Sainte-Victoire from the plateau above his studio, a view that could perhaps be considered his defining composition. From his rural upbringing, it is no surprise that nature was a vital component of Cézanne's life and consequently had a profound impact on his work. In a 1904 letter to Louis Aurenche, he wrote: 'a strong feeling for nature – and certainly mine is very keen – is the necessary basis of every artistic conception.' (Paul Cézanne quoted in J. Watkins (ed.), op. cit., p. 17).

    The present work is filled with the classic components of Cézanne's artistic method. The bold forms of the tree trunks, sculpted by thick pencil strokes, frame the work with the upper branches extending across to meet one another in an arboreal embrace. This natural gateway entices the viewer into the scene, curious to move forward and discover what resides in the softer, less sketched background. His exploratory horizontal and vertical lines create breadth and depth in the image and the modulation of the canopy and upper limbs of the trees creates the shimmering, swaying motion of a breezy, bucolic afternoon in Southern France. We can clearly see the spontaneous nature of the artist that had developed during his time in Paris, in addition to the three-dimensional pictorial assembly so evident in The Turn in the Road. He had a strong emphasis on the geometric construction of natural form and a technical mastery of its execution which brought him ever closer to abstraction and the Cubist movement, subsequently changing the course of art.

    The simplicity of the present work, and indeed many of Cézanne's drawings, is testament to his ability as an artist. As Joseph Rishel so aptly comments: 'as so often with Cézanne's pencil drawings, one tends, when looking at this sheet, to forget that it is not in colour' (J. Rishel, 'The 1880s', in J. Watkins (ed.), op. cit., p. 250). It is through his simplistic structuring of the scene with only the most necessary of lines that we are transported into the moment and offered an intimate glimpse into the daily rhythms of one of Modern Art's most important figures.
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