House in Provence

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906)

Currently on View in K411
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  • Cézanne loved the landscape of his home in southern France and devoted much of his career to painting it. This view depicts the ridge that sweeps down from the south side of Mont Sainte-Victoire, one of the artist’s favorite motifs.
  • This canvas, a classic example of Cézanne’s mature style, shows his desire to suggest nature’s underlying structure. He rendered the landscape as a composition of geometric shapes. The rugged terrain is a series of horizontal bands of blue, green, and tan, punctuated by the vertical accents of the trees and the volume of the isolated farmhouse.
Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

At a distance, this painting by Paul Cézanne reads clearly as a single farmhouse set against one of the artist's favorite subjects, the Mont Sainte-Victoire, a craggy mountain ridge in his native Provence in southern France. At close range, however, patches of saturated color laid down with broad brushstrokes intersect and overlap in a dynamic way. Angled in several directions, these brushstrokes create lively rhythms at odds with the feelings of solidity and permanence that emanate from the overall image.

Although he was influenced early in life by the outdoor studies of fellow painter Camille Pissarro, Cézanne went beyond the Impressionists' interest in capturing changing light and atmospheric effects. He analyzed the hues, forms, and shapes of nature, and gave a firmer structure to his landscapes. In House in Provence horizontal bands of color give a rooted simplicity to the composition, which is balanced by the vertical accents of the trees, the sheer rock faces, and the cubic volume of the house. Cézanne's emphasis on analyzing relationships of forms in space influenced many younger artists, including Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who collaborated in the development of Cubism in the decade immediately following Cézanne's death.

I wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and enduring like the art in museums.
-Paul Cézanne, as recorded by painter Maurice Denis in 1907

Probably from the artist to (Ambroise Vollard, Paris, France).{1} To Henri Bernstein [1876-1953] by 1910;{2} (Sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 1911);{3} Auguste Pellerin [1852-1929].{4} Probably via (Ambroise Vollard, Paris) and (Paul Cassirer, Berlin, Germany) to Gottlieb Friedrich Reber [1880-1959] by 1918;{5} sold to (Marie Harriman, New York, New York) by 1936;{6} purchased by Caroline Marmon Fesler, Indianapolis, Indiana; given to the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, in 1945. {7}

{1} See John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, volume 1, 1996, no. 573 cites the Vollard stocknumber 3879[A].
{2} See Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, Exposition Cézanne, 10-22 January 1910, no. 7, listing the owner as "H. Bernstein."
{3} See auction catalogue, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 7 June 1911, no. 9 (illustration);
{4} An annotated copy of the auction catalogue at the Frick Art Reference Library gives the purchaser as "Pellerin."
{5} A label with the Vollard stocknumber 5155 appears on the painting's stretcher. On Reber's ownership, see Peter Kropmanns and Uwe Fleckner, "Von Kontinentaler Bedeutung: Gottlieb Friedrich Reber und seine Sammlung," in Andrea Pophanken and Felix
Billeter, eds., Die Moderne und ihre Sammler, Berlin 2001, p. 352. A photo of the interior of Reber's apartment, dated to 1918, shows this painting hanging on the wall.
{6} Reber established connections with Harriman beginning in 1931 when she acquired Rousseau's Rendezvous in the Forest, NGA, from him. Based on the stocknumbers of several works that followed this path into the NGA's collection, IMA's painting was acquired by Harriman closer to 1936; information courtesy of Nancy Yeide, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
{7} IMA Temporary Receipt No. 4689.

Object Information

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906)
creation date
about 1885
oil on canvas
25-1/2 x 32 in. (canvas)
35-5/16 x 41-1/2 x 3-11/16 in. (framed, Optium)
other title
Maison devant la Sainte-Victoire, pres de Gardanne
accession number
credit line
Gift of Mrs. James W. Fesler in memory of Daniel W. and Elizabeth C. Marmon
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture 1800-1945

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