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Vallier was the gardener and odd-job man at Cézanne's house near Aix-en-Provence. This is one of six portraits of him, and was probably painted in the summer and autumn of 1906, not long before Cézanne's death in October that year. It follows Cézanne's method of capturing the exact tone of each element – both the shade of colour and its degree of luminosity – in distinct but overlapping brushstrokes, sometimes reflecting slight shifts in the artist’s perspective. Cézanne's ability to combine such elements into a single, unified composition was a very significant influence on the development of Cubism.

May 2011