PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
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PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)

Une Allée

PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
Une Allée
gouache and watercolor on paper laid down on paper
Image size: 8 x 5 ¾ in. (20.3 x 14.6 cm.)
Painted in 1865-1867
Paul Cezanne, Paris (son of the artist).
Paul and Juliette Guillaume, Paris (until at least 1936).
Tony Mayer, Paris; Estate sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 3 December 1957, lot 27.
Private collection, France.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 4 November 1993, lot 156.
Anon. sale, Galerie Koller, Zurich, 12 June 1997, lot 3138.
Private collection, Richterswil; sale, Christie's, London, 29 June 2000, lot 510.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owners.
L. Venturi, Cezanne: Son artson oeuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. I, p. 237, no. 809 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 268; dated circa 1970 and titled Allée des marronniers au Jas de Bouffan).
J. Rewald, Paul Cezanne: Catalogue Raisonné, The Watercolors, Boston, 1983, pp. 83-84, no. 5 (illustrated).
W. Feilchenfeldt, J. Warman, and D. Nash, The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cezanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné (, no. FWN 1004 (illustrated in color).
London, Thomas Agnew & Sons, Watercolour and Pencil Drawings by Cezanne, 1936, no. 1 (titled L'allée du Jas de Bouffan).
Sale room notice
This work has been requested for the exhibition Cezanne at the Jas de Bouffan to be held at the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence from 21 June-5 October 2025.

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Lot Essay

The motif of the tree-lined avenue, traditionally favored by the Barbizon painters, became central to Cezanne's creative output at the beginning of 1860s. In a departure from the Barbizon model, Cezanne rarely focused on the anatomy of the trees, nor was he interested in the depiction of their majestic silhouettes, romantically cast against atmospheric skies. Instead, the artist preferred to crop the chestnuts, emphasizing the tufts of green and concentrating on the perspective of the smooth trunks, caught in deep succession.
Above all, he was interested in color. As this work demonstrates, the depictions of tree-lined avenues reveal Cezanne more attentive to the flamboyant combination of bright yellows and intense greens, and seized by the play of light and shadow—a colorist, first and foremost. Une Allée epitomizes the artist's incessant preoccupation with chiaroscuro, conceived as a crucial tool to achieve his complex plastic tensions. The palette of this watercolor is typical of his mid 1860s endeavors: ranging from the almost white of the chestnuts' crowns to the very dark green of the undergrowth, it explodes in the central yellow, the chromatic center of the composition.
This subject, to which Cezanne was attracted since the late 1850s, became particularly prominent in his oeuvre after 1859, when his father Louis-August purchased the 18th century Provençal bastide known as the Jas de Bouffant. In the words of H. Loyrette, this was "a large blocky structure, rather severe, with a red-tile roof and stone walls covered with yellow stucco, [...] situated near Aix on a fifteen-hectare plot encompassing tenant farms and vineyeards as well as a modest pleasure garden with an oblong pool and an allée of old chestnut trees" (exh. cat, Cezanne, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1996, p. 126). From 1859, the young Cézanne spent his summers in the Jas, and soon he made the chestnut allée one of his favorite pictorial motifs. In 1864-1866 he executed some powerful palette-knife paintings of the trees (R. 62-65), now focusing on the chestnuts' perspective, now portraying the stone water-spouting lion at the corner of the pool, with the chestnuts in the background. The most mature of these compositions, famous for its subtly nuanced harmony of dark and light greens, was probably painted at the beginning of the 1870s, and is now in the collection of the Tate Modern in London (R. 158).
The remarkable proximity of the present watercolor with these oils—both on the iconographic and stylistic level—prompted Lionello Venturi to publish it as Allée des Marronniers au Jas de Bouffan and to propose a date of circa 1870. Whilst acknowledging Venturi's suggestion, Rewald preferred to broaden the field of possible Provençal landscapes, and was more cautious with the identification of the allée. Since the sheet does not feature the pool nor the stone lions, it can also be a depiction of the dramatic chestnut avenue leading to the Tholonet, one of Cezanne's favorite motifs in the countryside near the Mont Sainte-Victoire.

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