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Large Bathers (Philadelphia), Oil by Paul Cezanne (1839-1906, France)
The Bathers (French: Les Grandes Baigneuses) is an oil painting by French artist Paul Cézanne first exhibited in 1906. The painting is the largest of a series of "Bather" paintings by Cézanne; the others are in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the National Gallery, London. Occasionally referred to as the Big Bathers or Large Bathers to distinguish it from the smaller works, the painting is considered one of the masterpieces of modern art, and is often considered Cézanne's finest work. The painting was purchased in 1937 for $110,000 with funds from a trust fund for the Philadelphia Museum of Art by their major benefactor Joseph E. Widener. With each version of the bathers, Cézanne moved away from the traditional presentation of paintings, intentionally creating works which would not appeal to the novice viewer. He did this in order to avoid fleeting fads and give a timeless quality to his work, and in so doing paved the way for future artists to disregard current trends and paint pieces which would appeal equally to all generations. The abstract nude females present in Large Bathers give the painting tension and density. Using the same technique as employed in painting landscapes and still lifes, Large Bathers is reminiscent of the work of Titian and Peter Paul Rubens. Comparisons are also often made with the other famous group of nude women of the same period, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.