Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
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Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)

Deux arbres

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Deux arbres
watercolour and pencil on paper
8 ¼ x 10 ¼ in. (20.9 x 26.1 cm.)
Executed circa 1890
Paul Cézanne fils, Paris.
Paul Guillaume, Paris.
Adrien Chappuis, Tresserve, by whom acquired from the above in 1933, and thence by descent; their sale, Christie's, London, 26 June 2003, lot 342.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
L. Venturi, zanne, son art, son œuvre, Paris, 1936, p. 313 ('Page LXXXIV. Deux arbres').
J. Rewald, Paul Cézanne, The Watercolours, A Catalogue Raisonné, Boston, 1983, no. 358, p. 171 (illustrated n.p.).
W. Feilchenfeldt, J. Warman & D. Nash, The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné, no. FWN 3018-43b (accessed May 2019).
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Annie Wallington
Annie Wallington

Lot Essay

Cézanne admired the densely wooded landscapes of Gustave Courbet, and in his own drawings and paintings often depicts a corner of a forest close up, with limited depth of field. In Deux arbres, lines representing the contours of a few tree trunks serve as a vertical armature that orients the viewer amid the undulating curves of the rocky hillsides and crevices. Cézanne has reduced the landscape to its essential rhythmic arabesques, contrasting line with hatched shaded areas to create depth. As he wrote, 'Drawing is a relationship of contrasts or simply the relationship between two tones, black and white' (quoted in A. Chappuis, The Drawings of Paul Cézanne, vol. I, London, 1973, p. 13). A few carefully placed washes of watercolour indicate where blue patches of sky show through the dense foliage of the trees. Although the artist has not lingered anywhere on individual details, he nonetheless evokes the full richness and complexity of the scene.

In exploring the subject for its formal contrasts and dwelling less on its conventional picturesque qualities, Deux arbres shows Cézanne moving towards the more disembodied and floating appearance that is characteristic of many of his late landscape watercolours: forms have been suggested rather than defined. Cézanne would continue to analyse the spatial relationships between elements in the landscape from direct visual observation, however he would increasingly rely upon a more deeply intuitive understanding of the fundamental forms that he witnessed in nature, resulting in the creation of a pictorial reality that parallels rather than describes nature.

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