Paul Cézanne

The Avenue at the Jas de Bouffan

c.1874–5

Artist
Paul Cézanne 1839–1906
Original title
L'Allée au Jas de Bouffan
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 381 x 460 mm
frame: 583 x 670 x 100 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by the Hon. Mrs A.E. Pleydell-Bouverie through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1968
Reference
T01074

Not on display

Display caption

The Jas de Bouffan was an estate on the outskirts of Aix-en-Provence with a fine house dating from the seventeenth century. It belonged to Cézanne's family. Its avenue of chestnut trees provided the motif for a series of pictures by Cézanne, of which this is the earliest. Although difficult to date, it seems likely that it was painted after Cézanne's Impressionist phase. The construction of the picture, with its compressed space, heavy forms and slab-like diagonal foliage (made using a palette knife) is complex. It marks the first appearance of various elements that were to characterise many of his later, classically designed landscapes.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Paul Cézanne 1839-1906

T01074 L'Allée au Jas de Bouffan (The Avenue at the Jas de Bouffan) c.1874-5

Not inscribed
Oil on canvas, 15 x 18 1/8 (38 x 46)
Bequeathed by the Hon. Mrs. A.E. Pleydell-Bouverie through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1968
Prov: The artist's family, Aix-en-Provence; Georges Bernheim, Paris; with Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, January 1920; M. Wanamaker, January 1924; Walter Berry, Paris; Mrs. Edith Wharton, Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt; James Bomford, Aldbourne, Wilts.; with Lefevre Gallery, London, and Matthiesen Gallery, London (jointly) 1943; the Hon. Mrs. A.E. Pleydell-Bouverie, London, November 1943
Exh: Paysages Impressionnistes, Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, February-March 1920 (1); Cézanne, Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, December 1920 (18, repr.) as 'L'Allée'; Cézanne, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, May-October 1936 (24); Constable to Cézanne, Wildenstein Gallery, London, December 1944 (41); Landscape in French Art, RA, London, December 1949-March 1950 (312); The Pleydell-Bouverie Collection, Tate Gallery, January-April 1954 (8); Paintings by Cézanne, RSA, Edinburgh, August-September 1954 (8), dated c.1871; Tate Gallery, September-October 1954 (8); The French Impressionists and some of their Contemporaries, Wildenstein Gallery, London, April-May 1963 (19, repr.)
Lit: Lionello Venturi, Cézanne: son Art - son Oeuvre (Paris 1936), No.47, Vol.1, p.76, repr. Vol.2, pl.10 (dated 1867-9); Douglas Cooper, 'Two Cézanne Exhibitions I' in Burlington Magazine, XCVI, 1954, p.349 (dated c.1875); Lawrence Gowing, 'Notes on the Development of Cézanne' in Burlington Magazine, XCVIII, 1956, p.187; Ian Dunlop and Sandra Orienti, The Complete Paintings of Cézanne (London 1972), No.110, p.91, repr. p.90 (dated 1869)
Repr: Eli Faure, P. Cézanne (Paris 1923), pl.38

The Jas de Bouffan, an estate on the outskirts of Aix-en-Provence, with a fine house dating from the seventeenth century, belonged to Cézanne's father, and after his death to his heirs, from 1859 to 1899. Its avenue of chestnut trees provided the motif for a series of pictures by Cézanne, of which the present work is the earliest. This picture, constructed in a series of zones parallel to the picture surface, with a compressed space, heavy forms and diagonal planes of foliage, marks the first appearance of various elements which were to characterise many of his later classically designed landscapes.

It is however a work which is very difficult to date with any certainty. On the one hand it is fairly dark and rich in tone and executed in thick, juicy paint like his works of the late 1860s, made before the influence of Impressionism. On the other, it relates to his later, Post-Impressionist style in its advanced construction. Attempts have been made to date it about 1867-9 (Venturi), 1871 (Gowing), 1874 (Gowing's revised dating) and 1875 (Cooper), that is to say either immediately before or immediately after his most Impressionist phase, when he was working in association with Camille Pissarro. 1874-5 seems the most likely, but if so the tone and facture are uncharacteristic for that date.

Cézanne is not recorded to have left the North of France between the autumn of 1871 and the summer of 1874, but it is nevertheless possible that he visited Aix during this period.

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.103-4, reproduced p.103