Lot 143
  • 143

Paul Cézanne

100,000 - 150,000 USD
200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Paul Cézanne
  • Arbres
  • Watercolor on paper


Paul Cézanne fils, Paris (by descent from the artist)
Paul Guillaume, Paris
Sir Kenneth Clark, London
H.J. Bomford, London
George Moos, Geneva
George Waechter, New York (and sold: Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, December 13, 1967, lot 32)
Samuel J. & Ethel LeFrak, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Thence by descent


Lionello Venturi, Cézanne, son art, son oeuvre, vol. I, Paris, 1936, mentioned p. 349 
John Rewald, Paul Cézanne, The Watercolors, Boston, 1983, no. 356, illustrated n.p.

Catalogue Note

Emerging from the influence of his friend Camille Pissarro and their time spent in Pontoise and Auvers, Cézanne’s style gradually evolved from the legacy of the French Impressionists before him to a mature style grounded in his adoration of his birthplace, Provence. Dating from this mature period, the present work demonstrates Cézanne’s delight in depicting the scenery of his native Provence and the constant source of inspiration it provided. 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 revolutionized the concept of spatial structure by fully embracing the two-dimensional quality of the canvas or sheet of paper. Executed circa 1890, this skillfully rendered composition exemplifies the significant artistic developments Cézanne made during the 1880s.

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 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 colors. 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 watercolor with a wonderful impression of light and atmosphere. Arbes 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.