Cézanne | Landscape with Poplars

About this Painting

This painting is of a summer landscape in Cézanne’s native Provence in the south of France. Like the Impressionists, Cézanne was interested in depicting the landscape primarily using touches of colour. Although this painting shows Cézanne’s debt to Impressionism, his method is more controlled. For example, he has not sought to spontaneously capture ephemeral, transitory effects of light but has instead used colour to systematically build up the structure of the entire composition while still attending to local detail. He later remarked to the artist and writer Maurice Denis: ‘I wanted to make out of Impressionism something solid and durable like the art of museums.’

Cézanne created the volume and texture of the large poplar trees here using vertical and oblique brushstrokes of green and blue laid down in parallel formation. The natural forms of the trees contrast with the tauter, more geometric man-made structures in the centre of the picture. The building – possibly a farmhouse – and low stone wall are constructed with broader patches of ochre and blue-grey. Darker outlines define the building’s roof and walls, and Cézanne has also introduced small touches of red. The short brushstrokes used for both the trees and the buildings contrast with the relatively unworked and uniform area of sky and the looser, almost scribbled, strokes of the foreground meadow. Areas of raw canvas are visible along the picture’s right edge.

This painting, as well as other works by Cézanne in the National Gallery's collection, as analysed by Elisabeth Reissner in "Ways of Making: Practice and Innovation in Cézanne's Paintings in the National Gallery 2008" which appeared in The National Gallery Technical Bulletin vol. 29 (2008). A PDF of the article is available here.

More information about this painting is available on The National Gallery Website.

Connection to last week's item: While last week's alterpiece was painted on a wooden poplar panel, Cézanne's canvas depicts poplar trees.