PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906)
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PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906)

La Vallée de l'Arc

Details
PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906)
La Vallée de l'Arc
watercolour and pencil on paper
19 ¾ x 12 5/8 in. (50.2 x 32 cm.)
Executed circa 1885-1888
Provenance
Ambroise Vollard, Paris.
Marcel Guiot, Paris.
James Lord, New York; sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 6 January 1949, lot 14.
C.E. Cook; sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 3 February 1954, lot 24.
R.L. Dickman, Washington, D.C.; sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 11 November 1959, lot 18.
World House Galleries, New York.
Shelby P. Wilson, Dundee, Mississipi; sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 16 December 1970, lot 19.
Private collection, New York; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 27 May 1976, lot 213.
Harvey Lubitz, New York; sale, Sotheby's, Johannesburg, 2 November 1976, lot 58.
Anton C.R. Dreesmann; his sale, Christie’s, London, 9 April 2002, lot 48.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
J. Rewald, Paul Cézanne, The Watercolours, London, 1983, no. 237, p.141 (illustrated).
W. Feilchenfeldt, J. Warman & D. Nash, The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné, no. FWN 1183-TA (accessed June 2021).
Exhibited
New York, World House Galleries, Drawings, Watercolors, Collages by 20th Century Masters, December 1959 - January 1960, no. 11.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Executed between 1885 and 1888, La Vallée de l'Arc is a daring and experimental work dating from a period of intense artistic exploration for Cézanne. For years following the harsh critical reception of his Portrait of Victor Choquet in 1877, Cézanne ceased to interact with the Impressionists, and instead devoted himself to furthering the bounds of his artistic expression. It was during this period that he began to formulate his own unique theories of representation, largely influenced by his mentor Pissarro's painting. Many other factors contributed to the developments in Cézanne's art during this period, not least his marriage in 1886 to Hortense Fiquet, and his reconciliation with his father. This latter point became increasingly important, as Cézanne's father died later that year, leaving a substantial inheritance for his son which allowed Cézanne to ignore financial hurdles and truly dedicate himself to his art.

Cézanne was no longer involved with the Impressionist movement, and his oil paintings were steadily moving away from an Impressionist style. However, his watercolours allowed him to work extremely rapidly en plein air, meaning that he could quickly and effectively capture a scene. Indeed, no other Impressionist made as significant a contribution to the medium - Cézanne's watercolours are, in their unique way, the perfection of an Impressionist technique.

In La Vallée de l'Arc, Cézanne's appreciation of the difference between oils and watercolours can truly be seen to be coming to the fore. In early, unresolved watercolours, he had tried with varied success to capture similar scenes in a manner similar to his oils. At some point he realised that the two media require different treatments. His techniques for depicting the volume and almost tangible physicality of the world around him in oils was wholly unsuited to the diaphanous quality of watercolours, and so he developed a system of contrast between the painted and unpainted areas. He was able to present the world in a different way, demonstrated in his restraint, leaving vast expanses of blank, unmarked paper, manipulating the space itself and making it act as a colour in its own right. This judicious use of the white areas, combined with the vertical treatment of the scene, makes La Vallée de l'Arc reminiscent of old Japanese landscapes.

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