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Bathers by Paul Cézanne (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC)

Bathers by Paul Cézanne

Bathers by Paul Cézanne

Bathers by Paul Cézanne is a reinterpreting of a historical tradition of painting nude figures in the landscape by famous artists such as Titian and Poussin. Historically artists took inspiration from classical myths. Cézanne, however, was not depicting a mythological story. He was more concerned with the harmony of the figures to the landscape. When this painting was exhibited in 1907, it became an inspiration for Picasso, Matisse, and other artists who were exploring and developing new art movements. ‘Bathers’ is reminiscent of earlier artist’s works, and comparisons can be made with more modern works such as Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

This painting is one in a series of Bather paintings created by Cézanne towards the end of his life. With each successive version of the Bathers, Cézanne moved further away from the traditional paintings, intentionally creating artworks for an audience more interested in new forms of art. Cézanne wanted to pave the way for future artists to disregard current trends, and he focused on painting pieces that imbued a timeless quality to his work. The abstract nude forms are in symmetry to the triangular and rounded patterns of the trees reminiscent of landscapes and still-life paintings. Cézanne’s vision was:

“to make of Impressionism an art as solid as that of the museums.”

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne was a Post-Impressionist painter who laid the foundations in the transition from the 19th-century Impressionism to the 20th century’s Cubism. Both Matisse and Picasso have remarked that Cézanne “is the father of us all.” Cézanne’s art is characterized by repetitive, exploratory small brushstrokes that build up to form complex color fields, demonstrating his intense study of his subjects.

Bathers (Baigneuses)

  • Title:                Bathers
  • French:            Baigneuses
  • Artist:              Paul Cézanne
  • Year:                1874 until 1875
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions    Height: 38.1 cm (15 in); Width: 46 cm (18.1 in)
  • Museum:        Metropolitan Museum of Art

Paul Cézanne

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  • What does this painting tell us about how Cézanne viewed art?
  • Which version of the ‘Bathers’ paintings is your favorite?
  • Did Cézanne achieve his vision of making “Impressionism an art as solid as that of the museums”?


“I want to make of Impressionism an art as solid as that of the museums.”
– Paul Cézanne


Photo Credit: Paul Cézanne [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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