Paul Cézanne

Montagne Sainte Victoire

1905–6

Artist
Paul Cézanne 1839–1906
Original title
La Montagne Sainte-Victoire
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 362 x 549 mm
frame: 603 x 772 x 22 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941
Reference
N05303

On loan to: Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe, Germany)

Exhibition: Cézanne: Metamorphoses

Display caption

After 1885 the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, near his home in Aix-en-Provence, became Cézanne’s favourite landscape motif. He painted it many times from different positions and under different light conditions. This view, which shows the mountain with a hooked outline, was painted from a steeply-terraced slope above his studio. ‘He began with the shadows and with a touch, which he covered with a second more extensive touch, then with a third, until all these tints, forming a mesh, both coloured and modelled the object’, the artist Emile Bernard later recalled.

Gallery label, March 2008

Catalogue entry

Paul Cézanne 1839-1906

N05303 La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (The Montagne Sainte-Victoire) 1905-6

Not inscribed
Watercolour on paper, 14 1/4 x 21 5/8 (36 x 55)
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941
Prov: With Galerie Pierre, Paris (probably among a group of Cézanne watercolours purchased from Vollard c.1932); with Charles Montag, Lausanne; with Pierre Matisse, New York, 1934; with Dalzell Hatfield, Los Angeles, 1936; Sir Hugh Walpole, London
Exh: Hugh Walpole's Collection, French Gallery, London, May-June 1937 (12); Homage to Paul Cézanne, Wildenstein Gallery, London, July 1939 (68, repr.); The Tate Gallery's Wartime Acquisitions, National Gallery, London, April-May 1942 (23); A Selection from the Tate Gallery's Wartime Acquisitions, CEMA touring exhibition, September 1942-September 1943 (8); Paul Cézanne: an Exhibition of Watercolours, Tate Gallery, April-May 1946 (19); Arts Council touring exhibition, May-August 1946 (19); Watercolour and Pencil Drawings by Cézanne, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, September-November 1973 (99, repr.); Hayward Gallery, London, November-December 1973 (99, repr.); Cézanne, Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, March-May 1974 (82, repr.); Kyoto Museum, June-July 1974 (82, repr.); Cultural Centre, Fukuoka, July-August 1974 (82, repr.); Cézanne: Les Dernières Années (1895-1906), Grand Palais, Paris, April-July 1978 (94, repr.)
Lit: Lionello Venturi, Cézanne: son Art - son Oeuvre (Paris 1936), No.1030, Vol.1, p.268, repr. Vol.2, pl.304 (dated 1900-6); Lionello Venturi, Paul Cézanne Water Colours (London 1943), p.51, repr. in colour as frontispiece
Repr: Georg Schmidt, Aquarelle von Paul Cézanne (Basle 1952), pl.18 in colour

The Montagne Sainte-Victoire, near Aix-en-Provence, became after 1885 Cézanne's favourite landscape motif and he painted it many times from different positions. The present view, which shows the mountain with a hooked outline, was painted from Les Lauves, a steeply-terraced slope above the studio which Cézanne occupied from 1902 up to his death in 1906.

This watercolour is closely related to one of his last oil paintings of the Sainte-Victoire (Venturi No.803), now in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, and may have been done as a study for it. Lawrence Gowing has suggested that this oil painting was the one on which Cézanne was working when Maurice Denis and K.-X. Roussel visited him at Aix towards the end of January 1906, on the grounds that it appears on his easel in a picture by Denis 'The Visit to Cézanne' painted at this time and can also be seen in a photograph of Cézanne taken by Roussel. However according to A. Barskaya, Paul Cézanne (Leningrad, London and Wellingborough 1976), pp.190-1, the stretcher of this picture formerly had a label 'Exposition 1905'. This could only refer to the Salon d'Automne of 10 October-25 November 1905, in which Cézanne was represented by ten works, including one called 'Landscape in Provence'. The painting which appears in the picture by Denis and in Roussel's photograph cannot be seen clearly enough to be identified beyond doubt. But in any case both the Pushkin Museum oil and this watercolour must almost certainly have been painted either in 1905 or 1906.

A revealing note on Cézanne's method of painting in watercolour was made by Emile Bernard, who visited Cézanne in February-March 1904, when he watched him at work on a watercolour of the Sainte-Victoire. 'His method was strange, entirely different from the usual practices and of an extreme complexity. He began with the shadows and with a touch, which he covered with a second more extensive touch, then with a third, until all these tints, forming a mesh, both coloured and modelled the object'. (E. Bernard, Souvenirs sur Paul Cézanne, Paris 1912, p.26).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.107-8, reproduced p.107

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