R514 – Vue sur l’Estaque, 1882-1883 (FWN188)
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Vue sur l’Estaque is a painting left at the stage of a first, very rapid, lay-in. Its interest lies in revealing Cézanne’s point of departure and implicitly suggesting his early thoughts about the painting’s composition. There is no suggestion of the parallel touch. Here Cézanne sketches in the whole painting with whatever touch comes to hand, sometimes a roughly parallel one in three dimensions (in the trees), at other times a purely flat one, and in the sky a sweeping one that serves merely to wipe his brush clean. Yet his starting point has achieved much. The color masses have been distributed well and patterns of concentration and release have been established. The path curving around the flat ground on the right leads clearly past a dark tree and then turns left to follow the three sunlit façades; this leads us into space, establishes an unusual concentration in the center, and divides the composition into two equal halves. The colors are closer to neutral than they would be after elaboration but their final balance has already been suggested: for example, violet has already been added to the blue of the bay to balance the water properly against the warm roofs and walls.
We may assume that as he began to paint he recognized that the parallel touch would not work here. The vegetation would present no problems, but the principal attraction of the site was the involution of space in the center, where the curves of the round platform and the turning buildings meet. This turning inwards would not be convincingly represented by the parallel touch. Perhaps no other solution occurred to him; but be that as it may, it is worth noting that his procedure was the opposite of that in R380, Le Bassin du Jas de Bouffan picture, where the parallel touch provided the only thinkable solution.
Source: Pavel Machotka: Cézanne: Landscape into Art