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''The Seine at Bercy''

''The Seine at Bercy'' ''The Seine at Bercy''
''The Seine at Bercy''
''The Seine at Bercy'' "The Seine at Bercy" ''The Seine at Bercy''
  Paul Cezanne - Oil on Canvas - 59 x 72 cm – 1875/76 - Hamburger Kunsthalle

Paul Cézanne was one of the most important Post-Impressionist painters of the 19th century. His work laid the foundations of the transition from Impressionism to the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century such as Cubism, Expressionism, and abstract painting. Renowned for his radiant landscapes, intense portraits, and complex still lifes, his mature works are striking for their vivid palette, sensitive brushstrokes, and swirling, unstable compositions full of impetuosity and vigor.

This painting shows a view of the Seine’s riverbank in Paris where a floating crane towers high above the arches of the Pont National. Interestingly the work is an interpretation Cézanne made after an impressionistic painting of his friend Armand Guillaumin. A comparison with previous works illustrates how Cézanne was beginning to systematically develop his style to set a clear difference from that of the Impressionists. In contraposition to their spontaneous brushwork, the use of controlled and organized brushwork by Cézanne is particularly evident in the configuration of the clouds with structured diagonal brushstrokes, as opposed to the ephemeral atmospheres created by the artists from the previous movement. A compositional and stylistic separation is established with the lower area of the painting, where the brushstrokes are organized horizontally and the characters are rendered in a progressively abstract manner by using planes of color.

Born in Aix-en-Provence, Cézanne would come into contact in Paris with Camille Pissarro, with whom he would work together in Auvers and under whose influence he began to abandon dark colors creating brighter canvases. At the time he created this painting, Cézanne was moving between Paris and Provence and exhibiting in the first (1874) and third Impressionist shows (1877). In 1875, he attracted the attention of the collector Victor Chocquet, whose commissions provided him some financial relief. Though, his works were rejected numerous times by the official Salon in Paris and ridiculed by art critics, while he was considered a master by younger artists who visited his studio in Aix. The 1907 Cézanne retrospective after his death at the Salon d'Automne greatly affected the direction of modern art in Paris. His interest in the simplification of naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials - the cylinder, the sphere, the cone -, inspired Picasso, Braque, and others to experiment with the fracturing of form that would lead to Cubism.


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