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Among the subjects Cezanne repeatedly studied was Mont Sainte Victoire, the rocky mass that dominates the plain of Aix. His Mont Sainte-Victoire was painted about 1885-1887. Nothing indicates the time of the day or even the season. It neither rains nor snows in this landscape. Time is defeated by permanence. In this picture it is not clear where Cezanne places the observer. It is not certain where the tree is rooted. Some objects are identifiable as houses, trees, fields, but Cezanne's visual threshold is high and below that level nothing is defined. The effect of durability and massiveness is produced by a new use of the Impressionist colour spots. The landscape becomes a colossal rock crystal of colour – a cubic cross section of the world. Its background and foreground planes are established by branches and by the mountain whose rhythms they echo. The constituent planes embrace a great variety of hues of blue, green, yellow, rose, and violet. The delicate differentiation between these hues produces the impression of three-dimensional form. To construct form Cezanne has used the very colour patch the Impressionists had used ten years before to dissolve it. He has achieved from nature a construction and intellectual organisation much like that Poussin had derived from the organisation of figures, and made of Impressionism something durable, reminding us of the airless backgrounds of Giotto. Cezanne created a world remote from human experience. The beauty of his colour constructions is abstract, and it is no wonder that many artists of the early twentieth century, especially the Cubists, claimed him as the father of modern art.

Still life was to Cezanne second only to landscape. His Still life with Apples and Oranges was painted between 1895 and 1900. The arrangements of fruits, bottles, plates and a rumpled cloth on a tabletop never suggest the consumption of food or drink; they are spheroid or cylindrical masses. The appearance of reality is neglected; the table has a tendency to disappear under the table-cloth at one level and emerge from it at another, and the two sides of a bottle can be sharply different. Whether Cezanne did not notice such discrepancies in his search for the right colour to make a form go round in depth, or whether he decided on deformations consciously, has never been convincingly determined. He cared for subjects as arrangements of form and colour, but they also possessed for him strong psychological significance.

For his rare figure pieces Cezanne chose subjects as quiet, impersonal, and remote as his still lifes. The Card Players, of about 1890-1892, shows three men, two of whom are clad in the blue smock of the farmer labourer, sitting around a table, while a fourth gazes downward, arms folded. The card game had been a favourite subject among the followers of Caravaggio. The quite figures contemplate the cards, themselves planes of colour on white surfaces. The Giotto-like folds of the smock of the man on the right echo in reverse those of the hanging curtain, locking foreground and background in a single construction. Yet the background wall fluctuates at an indeterminable distance like the sky in one of Cezanne's landscapes.

The full beauty of Cezanne's developed style is seen in his Woman with the Coffee-pot, of about 1895. Cezanne's planes of varying hues of blue and blue-violet have built majestic cylinders from the arms and a fluted column from the body. Stability is very important for Cezanne. Yet the door panels in the background tilt slightly to the left, compensating for the turn of the head toward the right, and the placing of the coffee-pot and cup. The adjustments are so exquisite that the removal of one element inflicts the whole picture a fatal blow. Cezanne's search for the exact plane of colour to fit into his structure was so demanding that at times the plane eluded him. Surprising elements are the mysteriously vertical spoon, and the cylinders of cup and pot, definitely out of drawing.

By the end of his life Cezanne's development toward abstraction became more evident. The large Bathers, of 1898-1905, is the culmination of his series of nude compositions. The figures were neither painted from life, nor in the open air (women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did not bathe naked in streams and sun themselves on the banks). The fantasy gave Cezanne the materials with which to build a grand imaginary architecture, composed of strikingly simplified figures, overarching tree trunks, blue sky and white clouds – a modern cathedral of light and colour. The figures and heads remained schematic, features are suppressed and mouths are omitted entirely. The end result is a simplification of the human figure that had not been seen since the Middle Ages.

Make sure you know how to pronounce thefollowing words:

Cezanne; Provance; Aix; fatal; threshold; majestic; imaginary; indeterminable; Victoire


Mont Sainte-Victoire – «Гора Сент-Виктуар»

Card Players – «Игроки в карты»

Still life with Apples and Oranges – «Натюрморт с корзиной фруктов»

Woman with the Coffee-pot – «Женщина с кофейником»

Bathers – «Купальщицы»


I. Read the text. Make sure you understand it. Mark the following statements true or false.

1. Cezanne was born in Normandy.

2. Cezanne's early works were Neo-classic.

3. Cezanne exhibited his paintings at the Salon in 1877.

4. Portraiture to Cezanne was second only to still life.

5. Cezanne developed abstractionism.

6. The figures in the Bathers were painted from life.

II. How well have you read? Can you answer the following questions?

1. What interested Cezanne at the beginning of his career? What sayings illustrate Cezanne's mature style?

2. What subject did Cezanne repeatedly study? What is depicted in the Mont Sainte-Victoire^. How did Cezanne produce the effect of durability and massiveness? What did Cezanne achieve from nature?

3. What is shown in the Still life with Apples and Oranges? What discrepancies are seen in this work of art?

4. What subject did Cezanne choose for his figure pieces? What is depicted in the CardPlayers? How did Cezanne arrange the figures?

5. Where is the full beauty of Cezanne's developed style seen? What dominates in this painting?

6. What makes the Bathers a masterpiece? Why is Cezanne claimed to be the father of modern art?

III. i. Give Russian equivalents of the following phrases:

to adopt the Impressionist palette; objects are identifiable; a colossal rock crystal of colour; colour construction; spheroid or cylindrical masses; psychological significance; to inflict a fatal blow; search for the exact plane of colour; a developed style; a visual threshold; a fluted column; indispensable elements; the formation of a new style; simplified figures.

ii. Give English equivalents of the following phrases:

неотъемлемый элемент; упрощенные фигуры; зрительный порог; зрелый стиль; формирование нового стиля; постоянно изучать; сферические и цилиндрические фигуры; излюбленная тема; цветовые формы; не поддающиеся определению предметы; овладеть палитрой импрессионистов.