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Mont Sainte-Victoire

Paul Cezanne ( between 1886 and 1887 )

Collection item 0285
  • Period Nineteenth-Century
  • Materials Oil on canvas
  • Object Number 0285
  • Dimensions 23 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.; 59.69 x 72.39 cm.; framed: 31 1/4 in x 36 3/8 in x 4 3/8 in; 79.37 cm x 92.39 cm x 11.11 cm
  • Credit Line Acquired 1925

Paul Cezanne linked the classical and traditional aspirations of the nineteenth century with an avant-garde technique and spirit that revealed painting’s abstract potential to the twentieth century. Cezanne’s fascination with Mont Sainte-Victoire stemmed partly from his avowed love for “the conformation of my country,” yet it transcended this profound attachment. According to Meyer Shapiro, “He identified with it as the ancients with a holy mountain on which they set the dwelling or birthplace of a god. Only for Cezanne, it was an inner god that he externalized in this mountain peak – his striving and exaltation and desire for repose.”

Duncan Phillips’s acceptance of Cezanne’s eminent ancestry in the Old Masters is signaled by his 1925 purchase of Mont Sainte-Victoire and his statement, “Our new masterpieces by Corot, Constable and Cézanne took their place in the Main Gallery as if they had always belonged there in that intimate association with Greco’s Peter, Chardin’s Still Life, the groups of Daumiers, Courbets and Chavannes and the great Renoir.” In 1931, Phillip’s conveyed his feeling for the painting in his Trowbridge Lecture: “Perfect equilibrium is established, a beneficent harmony…. No touch of the painter’s brush fails to function in the sparing application of a few colors, while the canvas is left bare here and there with unerring knowledge of stress and interval, of movement and repose. A symmetry like the Parthenon and a strange solidity are achieved with the simplest means…. And so there is life and movement within the architecture of space.”