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

Profil de rocher près des grottes au-dessus de Château Noir

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Profil de rocher près des grottes au-dessus de Château Noir
watercolor over pencil on paper
19 x 12 3/8 in. (48.1 x 31.4 cm.)
Painted in 1895-1900
Estate of the artist.
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (1907).
Montross Gallery, New York (April 1916).
Lillie P. Bliss, New York (acquired from the above, 1916).
The Museum of Modern Art, New York (bequest from the above); sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 11 May 1944, lot 70.
Lola and Siegfried Kramarsky, New York (by 1952).
Private collection, New York (by descent from the above, circa 1961).
By descent from the above to the present owners.
"A Representative Group of Cézannes Here," The New York Times, January 1916, p. 21.
W.H. Wright, "Paul Cézanne," International Studio 57, no. 228, February 1916, p. cxxx (titled Trees Amongst Rocks).
J. Rewald and L. Marschutz, "Plastique et réalité: Cézanne au Château Noir," L'Amour de l'Art, vol. 16, no. 1, January 1935, p. 19(illustrated, fig. 12; titled Rochers avec des arbres).
L. Venturi, Cézanne: Son art, son oeuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. I, p. 272, no. 1060 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 309; dated 1900-1904 and titled Arbres parmi les rocs, au Château Noir).
F. Novotny, Cézanne und das Ende der wissenschaftlichen Perspektive, Vienna, 1938, p. 213, no. 29 (illustrated, fig. 34).
A.H. Barr, Jr., ed., Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1942, p. 30, no. 102 (dated circa 1900 and titled Trees Among Rocks).
J. Rewald, Paul Cézanne: The Watercolors, A Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1983, no. 436 (illustrated).
F. Novotny, Paul Cézanne: Gesammelte Schriften zu seinem Werk und Materialien aus dem Nachlass, Vienna, 2011 (illustrated, fig. 34; dated 1900-1902).
W. Feilchenfeldt, J. Warman and D. Nash, The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné, (, no. FWN 1385 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Aquarelles & pastels de Cézanne, H.-E. Cross, Degas, Jongkind, Camille Pissarro, K.-X. Roussel, Paul Signac, Vuillard, May 1909, p. 2, no. 10 (titled Les rocs dans la verdure).
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paul Cézanne, January 1910, no. 65 (titled Les rocs dans la verdure).
Brussels, La Libre Esthétique, Interprétations du Midi, March-April 1913, no. 51 (titled Arbres parmi les rocs).
Rome, Succession, II. Internationale, Seconda esposizione internationale d'arte della 'Secessione," February-June 1914, no. 16 (titled Alberi tra rocce).
New York, Montross Gallery, Cézanne, January 1916, no. 11 (titled Trees Amongst Rocks).
New York, Arden Gallery, The Evolution of French Art from Ingres and Delacroix to the Latest Manifestations, April-May 1919, no. 99 (titled The Trees).
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Paintings and Drawings by Representative Modern Masters, April-May 1920, p. 8, no. 48 (titled Rocks and Trees).
New York, Brooklyn Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer Exhibition of Modern French and American Painters, June-October 1926.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Andover, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy and Indianapolis, John Herron Art Institute, Memorial Exhibition: The Collection of the Late Miss Lillie P. Bliss, May 1931-January 1932, p. 21, no. 19 (titled Trees Among Rocks).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, The Lillie P. Bliss Collection, May-September 1934, p. 37, no. 19 (illustrated; dated circa 1900 and titled Trees Among Rocks).
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Art Institute, Paintings, Drawings and Watercolors from the Lillie P. Bliss Collection, March-April 1935, no. 25 (titled Trees Among Rocks).
San Francisco Museum of Art, Paul Cézanne: Exhibition of Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Prints, September-October 1937, p. 32, no. 51 (dated 1900-1904 and titled Arbres parmi les rocs, au Château Noir).
Kunsthalle Tübingen and Kunsthaus Zürich, Paul Cézanne: Aquarelle, January-May 1982, p. 275, no. 64 (illustrated; titled Arbres parmi les rocs au-dessus de Château Noir).

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Allegra Bettini
Allegra Bettini

Lot Essay

Situated midway between Aix and the outlying village of Le Tholonet to the east, the Château Noir was built in the second half of the nineteenth century, according to the local lore, by a coal merchant who painted it black. Another tradition holds that the first resident was an alchemist who obtained his skills, Faust-like, from a pact with the devil; hence the house was also known as the Château du Diable. By Cézanne's time the building had the familiar ochre color of stone cut from the nearby Bibémus quarry. Cézanne would often travel there from Aix, covering the three-mile journey by cart, particularly after the sale in 1899 of his home and estate, the Jas de Bouffan. Indeed, he even rented a space just by its courtyard to store his materials.
Cézanne had known these special haunts around Aix from childhood. As a younger man he had avidly hiked to his "motifs," but now in his sixties, he normally journeyed by carriage along the route du Tholonet, waiting until after four in the afternoon, when the heat of day had subsided. J.P Rivière and J.F. Schnerb, artists who visited Cézanne in January 1905, wrote that “Cézanne preferred to work during the hours when the low sun cast an especially warm light on objects... 'Day is on the wane,' he would say. You see, he was less interested in painting the violent contrasts that the untamed sun imposes than the delicate transitions which model objects by almost imperceptible degrees. He painted modulated light rather than full sunlight” (quoted in M. Doran, ed., "The Studio of Cezanne," M. Doran, ed., Conversations with Cézanne, Berkeley, 2001, p. 88). Emile Bernard recalled one such outing during a visit to the artist in 1904; “we set out joyously, following a route that became more and more impressive. Pine forests appeared at last, and he made me get out so I could have a better look at the views with him. We explored the area together. In spite of his age, he was very nimble walking among the rocks...When he was in a difficult spot, he got down on all fours and crawled while chatting” (quoted in ibid., p. 71).
Cézanne normally chose to paint the Château Noir and the quarries at Bibémus in oil, a medium of inherently material substance, but the more mysterious and hermetic woodland scenes lent themselves to watercolor, which the artist applied in gossamer, patch-like washes. Theodore Reff has written that “the transparent, liquid color allows him to explore the immaterial and evanescent in nature, the stirring of branches in a breeze...qualities that he rarely tries to capture in the more robust medium [of oil paint] and that we do not normally associate with his art” (Cezanne: The Late Work, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1997, p. 29). Through his use of watercolor, Cézanne discovered how to place colors side by side in order to modulate forms and suggest the shifting structure of planar elements in both landscape and still-life, thus heralding his late style of oil painting. His reliance on these reduced means and his mastery at utilizing the simple juxtaposition of classical and baroque contrasts—his use of strictly vertical lines to set off more involuted forms—are plainly in evidence here, and bear witness to these signal developments, which took place within the artist's final decade, from about 1895 to his death in 1906.
Profil de rocher près des grottes au-dessus de Château Noir is the only watercolor of this rock formation in the park nearby the well-known home, which appears in both Dans le parc du Château Noir and Arbres et rochers dans le parc du Château Noir. According to John Rewald, “the brushstrokes sometimes recall the diagonal, square touches Cézanne had once applied in his canvases. Except for the lower right, no pencil seems to have been used” (op. cit., 1983, p. 194).
When the present watercolor was exhibited at Montross Gallery in 1916, the critic of the New York Times wrote, “There is a study of rocks in which a few horizontal and perpendicular and oblique lines are fortified by a few splashes of yellow, and brown and blue, and the rest is white paper—solid white paper—which is cajoled or forced into expressing the weight and volume of rock. Cézanne’s palette in these watercolors is of singular purity, and although he uses thin fluid washes, he entirely avoids edginess. His tints run into one another with lovely gradations. Blue becomes green, yellow becomes orange with flecks of stronger color. There is no attempt at chromatic planes, but the air sweeps over and through the landscape. It bathes the clusters of flowers which are the disembodied spirits of bloom, it sinks into the hollows of bloom, it sinks into the hollows of ravines, it rushes into color and the whole picture is nothing but the union of the two" (op. cit., p. 21). This watercolor was one of thirty included in Cézanne's exhibition at the Montross Gallery. The present work was sold to Lillie P. Bliss, the generous New York patron of the arts, and would later be donated to The Museum of Modern Art.

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