Lot 4
  • 4

Paul Cézanne

300,000 - 400,000 GBP
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  • Paul Cézanne
  • Sous-bois
  • watercolour and pencil on paper
  • 39.4 by 52.4cm.
  • 15 1/2 by 20 5/8 in.


Paul Cézanne fils, Paris

Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris

Hans Heinrich Braune-Krickau, Germany

Dr Georg S. Hirschland, Essen & New York

Private Collection (a gift from the above in 1937. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 30th March 1988, lot 309)

Purchased at the above sale by the late owner


Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 1999, no. 121, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Venice, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, 1999, no. 140, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 139, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La passion du dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 123, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowksi, 2005, no. 108, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Munich, Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 124, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Lionello Venturi, Cézanne, son art - son œuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. I, no. 1006, catalogued p. 265; vol. II, no. 1006, illustrated pl. 299

John Rewald, Paul Cézanne, The Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1983, no. 440, illustrated


Executed on cream wove paper, not laid down, hinged to the mount in the upper corners. There are remnants of tape from previous mounting in the top corners. There is a small tear on the extreme left edge and a small supported tear on the right edge (not visible when mounted). There are some small imperfections in the paper in the upper left that have been overpainted. Apart from some fading to the watercolour, some typical discolouration to the paper and some mount staining at the edges, this work is in very good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although slightly fresher in the original.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Sous-bois belongs to the climactic phase in Cézanne’s artistic production, during which he executed a number of his best works that were to have a pivotal influence on the development of twentieth century art. During this last decade of his career, Cézanne’s choice of motifs developed in two different directions: in one, exemplified by his many late views of the Mont Sainte-Victoire, the artist portrayed open and expansive scenes dominated by the sense of freedom and spaciousness. In the other, exemplified by the present work, he focused on densely wooded scenes of wild, untamed growth. Whilst in his earlier works the artist created a sense of perspective by placing elements of the foreground and background in dramatic contrast, in this latter group of works he revolutionised the concept of spatial structure by fully embracing the two-dimensional quality of the canvas or sheet of paper.


The present composition is dominated by a group of slender, elegant trees, their tops disappearing beyond the edges of the sheet. By reducing his palette to a combination of blue, green, yellow and brown tones, Cézanne achieved an increasing level of abstraction in his landscapes. Having rejected conventional methods of rendering perspective, the artist builds the spatial structure purely by juxtaposing different shapes and colours. By contrasting the thin horizontal and gently curved lines of the trees with the unpainted patches of paper he creates a sense of expanding and receding spaces, while this network of rhythmic shapes rendered in light, translucent hues imbues this watercolour with a wonderful impression of light and atmosphere.