Paul Cézanne - Large bathers 1906

Large bathers 1906
Large bathers
1906 210x251cm oil/canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art

« previous picture | 1900s Cézanne Paintings | next picture »

Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections
Near the end of his life Paul Cézanne painted three large canvases of female nudes disporting in a landscape. They derive in part from pastoral images of female bathers, such as the goddess Diana and her maidens, long favored in French art. These works seem to have been, for Cézanne, the culmination of a lifetime of exploration on the nude, his final testament within the grand tradition of French narrative painting on the nature of the human condition. They differ greatly from one another, these three paintings (the others are in the Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania, and the National Gallery, London). The Philadelphia version, perhaps because of its unfinished state, is both the most exalted and the most serene. The women command a great stage, very much like goddesses in some grand opera production, with the arched trees acting as the proscenium. They are completely at ease, and for all the motion and activity there is a profound sense of eternal calm and resolution, as well as a quality of monumentality achieved through the most lucid and unlabored means.
Joseph J. Rishel, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 211.