The François Zola Dam
CÉZANNE, Paul (1839 - 1906)
Media: oil on canvas
Size: 54.2 x 74.2 cm
Acquired: 1952; Bequest; Gwendoline Davies
Accession Number: NMW A 2439
Collection: The Davies Sisters Collection
Cézanne frequently visited the hills of l'Estaque, a short distance to the west of Marseilles. This midday view of them is painted on paper, laid down on canvas, and dates from 1878-79 or 1883-84. By 1885 it belonged to Gauguin, who copied it in gouache and mused that 'the path winding across the broken ground through the young trees reminded [him] of the lonely path along which Christ wandered in sombre thought towards the Mount of Olives'. The remarkably flat and simply articulated composition recalls Cézanne's observation that the Provençal landscape was 'like a playing card, red roofs over the blue sea...The sun is so terrific here that it seems to me as if the objects were silhouetted in blue, red, brown, and violet... this seems to me to be the opposite of modelling'. Gwendoline Davies purchased this work in Paris in 1918. When on loan to the Tate Gallery in 1922, Roger Fry praised it as 'one of the greatest of all Cézanne's landscapes'.