« Like a Dog, Just Looking »

Cézanne, Innocence, and Early Phenomenological Thought in Nineteenth-Century France

Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer

First published in A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Art, First Edition. Edited by Michelle Eacos. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2019 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

He [Cézanne] sat there in front of it like a dog, just looking, without any nervousness, without any ulterior motive.

(Rainer Maria Rilke to Clara Rilke, Paris, October 12, 1907; Rilke 1985, 46)

 

Ever since the advent of phenomenology as a discrete philosophical school in the early twentieth century, scholars have pondered its implications for modernist art. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s celebrated 1945 essay on Cézanne especially gave rise to a number of studies that projected retroactively on the painter and his works phenomenological concepts articulated well after his death (Merleau-Ponty 1993).[1] Isaacson, Joel. « Constable, Duranty, Mallarmé, Impressionism, Plein Air, and Forgetting. » The Art Bulletin, September, 1994,427-450. Yet as Merleau-Ponty himself acknowledged, far from novel epistemological discovery, phenomenology existed as a « style of thinking » long before arriving at a complete awareness of itself as an autonomous method (Merleau-Ponty 1967, 357).[2]Merleau-Ponty mentions the philosophers Maine de Biran, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, among phenomenology’s precursors. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. « What is Phenomenology. » In The Philosophy of Edmund Husserl and its Interpretations, edited by Joseph Kockelmans, 356-374. New York: Doubleday, 1967. Taking into account so far lit­tle-studied pre-phenomenological strains of thought in France in the second half of the nineteenth century, this essay traces the origins and formation of a phenomenologically inflected critical discourse around Cézanne during the painter’s own lifetime, a dis­course in which he himself participated, if only unsystematically and unwittingly.

Phenomenological Preamble

The second half of the nineteenth century was a turning point in the history of French philosophy. The early part of the century had been dominated by the stark Positivism of Auguste Comte (1798-1857) and his disciple Émile Littré (1801-1881) and by the uncontested authority of an empirical, scientific method of inquiry. But by the middle of the century, the Positivist worldview and the naturalist aesthetic it inspired in the arts were cast into doubt. Spearheaded by science, new theories demonstrated that man and man’s relation to the physical universe eluded mere sensory apprehension. Advances in the related realms of psychology, psycho-physiology, and the analysis of perception (Heinz Hartmann, Théodule-Armand Ribot) revealed the subjective and variable nature of interpretations of sensory facts, thus raising profound concerns about Positivism’s scientifically based explanations presented as absolute and permanent truths. Nature was reconfigured as an organic whole pervaded with a single live sub­stance, a composite of interconnected beings and forces, visible and invisible, palpable and imperceptible—be they geological layers that reached into the darkest core of the earth (Charles Lyell), infinitesimal particles of vibrant materiality populating a dense ether, and shared biological origins of animal and human life (Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel). As a result, Positivism came to be regarded as an increasingly imperfect or, rather, incomplete system of knowledge (in his late work Comte himself was to acknowl­edge the importance of such intangible forces as psychology, subjectivity, and metaphysics).

By the third quarter of the nineteenth century the reaction against Positivism was well underway. A compromise evolved that merged, synthetically, elements from two disparate strands of thought: a Positivist outlook founded on rational, scientific empiri­cism, and a Spiritualist impulse that called for an approach to reality through the filter of interior psychological faculties, such as consciousness (and the subconscious), intui­tion, free will, instinct, and memory. An early symptom of these developments was the immense popularity of the eclectic philosophy of Victor Cousin (1792-1867)—a medley of past philosophical systems analyzed from the vantage point of modern psy­chological methods that declared the centrality of human consciousness. Going even further than Cousin, Hippolyte Taine (1828-1893), a Positivist renegade, developed a hybrid philosophical method founded on a unitarian belief about the mind and the senses working in unison. This method, which Taine dubbed a « scientific metaphysics » or « complete science, » evoked the process of cognition as the result of joint empirical and psychological considerations, culminating in a « monist, » unified worldview (Charlton 1959, 133).

By the mid-1880s, proponents of this new hybrid strain, mostly students of Cousin in the circles of the Sorbonne and the École Normale, had coalesced into a loose group known as Spiritualist Positivists.[3]The name Spiritualist Positivism was coined by Felix Ravaisson whose writings in the 1860s exemplify that new philosophical method. Felix Ravaisson, La philosophie en France au dix-neuvième siècle (Paris: Hachette, 1895, first publ. 1867), 275. See also Etienne Vacherot, Le nouveau spiritualisme (Paris: Hachette, 1884), a period testi­mony by one of the followers of the movement; Ralph Barton Perry, Philosophy of the Recent Past. An Outline of European and American Philosophy since I860 (New York: Scribners, 1926), especially the chapter « Spiritualism in France. Maine de Biran. Cousin. Ravaisson. Boutroux, » 97-113 ff; Gouhier ed., Oeuvres choisies de Maine de Biran (Paris: Aubier, 1942), Introduction, 22-23; Dominique Janicaud, Une généalogie du spiritualisme francais. Aux sources du bergsonisme. Ravaisson et la métaphysique(The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969); Jean Beaufret Notes sur la philosophie en France au XIXe siècle. De Maine de Biran à Bergson (Paris: J.Vrin, 1984); Jean Lefranc, La philosophie en France au XIXe siècle (Paris: PUF, 1998); and the entry « Spiritualisme » in Encyclopédie philosophique universelle, Les notions philosophiques, Sylvain Auroux ed., vol. 2 (Paris: PUF, 1989-), 2444-2446. They included Paul Janet (1823-1899), Jules Simon (1814-1896), Emile Boutroux (1845-1921), and Felix Mollien Ravaisson (1813-1900), as well as, among the younger generation, Henri Bergson (1859-1941), and Jean Jaurès (1859-1914), the future socialist politician and Bergson’s classmate. The Spiritualist Positivist worldview invoked an integrated, monist universe consisting of all-pervasive matter (« substance ») infused with spirit, and of intimately connected ani­mate and inanimate elements into an overall universal unity. In anticipation of modern phenomenological thought, Spiritualist Positivists asserted man’s ability to access that world’s inner, absolute truths (noumena: essences or « things in themselves »), beyond elusive, transient sensory appearances (phenomena), through the joint powers of the intellect and the senses, consciousness and intuition. Perception was described as a bodily and psychologically immersive experience. Just as the observer’s thought directed itself toward its object, so did that object’s essence come to « inhabit » the sub­ject’s consciousness (in a process later phenomenologists were to describe as « the fusion of self and nature »; Johnson 1993, 11). To attain such knowledge of inner truth, a primeval purity of vision was deemed necessary. Purged of pre-existing superstruc­tures and beliefs, — social, cultural, and scientific—perception, operating as the united action of the mind and the senses, should search for the foundational core, the original meaning of reality. The secular, indeed atheistic, and materialist ideals of that current appealed to both conservative and left-wing middle class thinkers, philosophers, histo­rians, writers, critics, and artists.[4]Michael Marlais, Conservative Echoes in Fin-de-siècle Parisian Art Criticism (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University, 1992), 58-76, explains that by the 1890s, the aesthetic ideals of « unity, » « synthesis, » « abstraction, » and the quest for « essences » became shared concepts among members of opposing cultural-political factions, both left wing thinkers (Georges Clemenceau, Octave Mirbeau, Gustave Geffroy, Léon Bazalgette) and followers of a nationalistic, religious strain (Maurice Denis, Adrien Mithouard, Xavier Mellerio, Joris Karl Huysmans). Thus Huysmans, a one-time left wing Positivist turned conservative Catholic in the 1890s, called for a unitarian aes­thetic in the novel: « If possible, the novel ought to be compounded of two elements, that of the soul and that of the body, and these ought to be inextricably bound together as in life … we must trace a parallel route in the air by which we may go above and beyond, and create in a word a spiritualist naturalism (“un spiritualisme naturaliste »). It would be more impressive, more complete, more powerful than anything so far. » [my emphasis] Anette Kahn, Joris Karl Huysmans. Novelist, Poet, Critic (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1982), 21-22. While from the republican, monist, and athe­ist camp, the cultural critic Léon Bazalgette proclaimed that matter « contains soul » and « both spirit and matter originate from the same substance » (Léon Bazalgette, L’Esprit nouveau. Paris, Société d’éditions littéraires, 1898, 38). See also Katherine Kuenzli, « Aesthetics and Cultural Politics in the Age of Dreyfus: Maurice Denis’s Homage to Cézanne, » Art History 30/5 (November 2007): 683-711.

The Critic as Philosopher

The aesthetic thought of the writer and art critic Gustave Geffroy (1855-1926), one of the first and staunchest supporters of Cézanne, carries the imprint of this proto-phenomenological worldview.[5] On Geffroy as an art critic, see JoAnne Paradise, « Gustave Geffroy and the Criticis of Painting » (PhD dissertation, New York: Garland Publishing, 1985); Patricia Plaud Dilhuit, « Geffroy, critique d’art. » PhD dissertation, University’ of Rennes II, 1987. Geffroy was an early proponent of literary Naturalism, who read Comte and befriended Zola and the Goncourt brothers. But he too was soon to share the period’s unease with Positivist doctrines and embrace instead a mitigated Spiritualist Positivist approach that inflected rational and empirical thought with panthe­ism, subjectivity, and psychological sensibility, a fusion of opposites to which Geffroy succinctly referred to as « science and dream. » His use of concepts such as « universal life » and « the links between things » reflected his belief in the existence of an all-encompass­ing totality that included all beings, animate and inanimate, and in the unity of the inorganic and organic realms. According to this view man’s presence in the cosmos was not a separate or isolated happening. Man was in « solidarity with everything that exists, » he palpitated with universal life, just as the universe—woods, fields, animals, rivers, sea, clouds—was reflected in man (Geffroy 1894a, XVIH-XIX and 12). « Everything is con­tained in everything, » he declared, « and the unity of phenomena of every category is made quickly evident provided that we reflect on it briefly » (ibid., XVHI).

In 1882, as the official art critic for La Justice, the newspaper directed by his close friend the socialist politician Georges Clemenceau, Geffroy reviewed the new, two-vol­ume edition of Taine’s book Philosophie de l’art, a collection of Taine’s lectures on aesthetics delivered at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1864 (Geffroy 1882).[6]The first edition of Taine’s book was published in 1865.  In it, Taine defined art’s goal as the revelation of « the essence of things » and described the artist’s mission as a quest, jointly using empirical and psychological considerations, for the « depth of things » or « what the philosophers call the essence of things » (Taine 1882, 30, 31 and 38-39, 42—4:3).[7]See also T.H. Goetz, Taine and the Fine Arts (Madrid: Playor, 1973), passim and 72-73. To reach that elemental truth, Taine admonished artists to condense and abstract their motif by progressively stripping it from all superfluous formal layers so as to unveil its original core, its deeper truth or meaning. Geffroy praised the book as the perfect demonstration of Taine’s « métaphysique scientifique, » a method, as Geffroy explained, that jointly engaged « the art of form and its deepest truth. » His own approach as an art critic was deeply influenced by Taine’s ideas.[8]For Taine’s impact on Geffroy’s art criticism, sec Patricia Plaud-Dilhuit, « Gustave Geffroy critique d’art. » To take just one example, in his review of Eugène Boudin’s exhibition in 1883, Geffroy praised Boudin as not only accurately depicting a certain location along with its people and their habits, as Taine required, but also as an artist at once « sincere and learned » (sincère et savant), that is, possessed of both purity of vision and acuity of intellect, thereby able to apprehend « the surface of things » as well as « penetrating their mean­ing » (Geffroy 1883).

A man of many talents—journalist, art critic, novelist, and historian—by the 1890s, Geffroy had become an influential presence among the modernist avant-garde. His friends included eminent left-wing politicians such as Clemenceau and Jaurès, and artists and writers, including Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Jean-François Raffaelli, and Octave Mirbeau. On November 1894, at a lunch gatlhering in Monet’s house in Giverny, Geffroy also met Cézanne, about whom he had written a glowing article in the March 25 1894 issue of Le Journal and to which Cézanne had responded with a grateful note (Geffroy 1894a, 249-260).[9]Cézanne’s response appears in a letter dated March 26, 1894, translated in Cézanne 1984, 237. An earlier Geffroy article about Cézanne mentions the painter as part of the Impressionist group. La Revue Encyclopédique, 73/3 (December 15,  1893) 1219-1223. Their acquaintance culminated in Cézanne’s project for a portrait of the critic—now at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris—which how­ever remained unfinished. Nonetheless, Geffroy continued to be enthusiastic about Cézanne, as evidenced by the critic’s subsequent laudatory review of the artist’s ret­rospective at the dealer Ambroise Vollard’s gallery in November 1895 (Geffroy 1895).[10]Reprinted in La vie artistique, 6 (Paris, 1900), 214—220.

Geffroy’s two essays about Cézanne, from 1894 and 1895, resonate with the critic’s phenomenological worldview. « Unknown yet famous, » and the « gifted forerunner of a different land of art, » Geffroy’s Cézanne is portrayed as a loner in tine margins of eve­ryday society, indeed « in the margins of life, » and as « a Self caught in a « struggle with Nature » whose primary essence he attempted to translate accurately without the use of « a readymade artistic program(s) » or « ideal formula(s) » (Geffroy 1894b).[11] Reprinted in La vie artistique, 3 (1894), 249-251. Propelled by a demanding consciousness (« une conscience difficilement satisfaite »’), integrity, and an unswerving will, Cézanne looked intently and patiently at the world around him in an effort to penetrate and understand it (Geffroy. 1895). This approach enabled him to delve into nature’s greater, absolute « truth, » and grasp the true essences of « things, » indeed to « possess them » in a process analogous to ancient shepherds who, in the soli­tude of the fields, discovered the origins of art, astronomy, and poetry (Geffroy 1894b). In full control of his means of expression, his painter’s craft and tools, « he [Cézanne] knows art and wants to make it manifest through objects, » Geffroy wrote (Geffroy 1895). He acknowledged that Cézanne’s paintings included awkward and unskilled areas, and that he paid little attention to normative perspective and proportions. But in his view, such apparent clumsiness should be interpreted as a token of the painter’s sincerity, of his quest for « truth » and for a « purity » of vision unfettered by conventional representational recipes.[12]The conceit of « pure vision, » a topos of Romanticism, was revived and embraced by early phenomenological thinkers. It occurred in Taine, and later in Bergson, Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, among others. See Hippolyte Taine, On Intelligence, 2 (New York: Henry Holt, 1875), especially Chapter 2, 40-96. In his 1899 essay « Laughter » Bergson urged artists to seek a « purity of vision » that would « abandon all prepossessions » in order to « recapture a fresh and primitive impression. » Henri Bergson. Laughter. An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, translated by Cloudesley Brereton and Fred Rothwell, www.gutenberg.org. Painted as an « ensemble, » a totality using multiple superim­posed layers of thin pigment, Cézanne’s pictures assumed the solidity and dense mate­riality of autonomous objects in their own right, such as tightly woven tapestries or richly decorated porcelain artifacts.

In the Wake of Geffroy

In his reviews, Geffroy seized the opportunity’ to distance his secular, pantheistic, and materialist position from Symbolist idealist interpretations of Cézanne. As he stressed, although superficially similar to Symbolist paintings especially in their use of a « Synthetist » technique, Cézanne’s works departed radically from a Symbolist aesthetic in their firm grounding in tangible reality- and nature, and in their rejection of the Symbolists’ reliance on preconceived metaphysical « ideal formulas, » « artistic pro­grams, » and « despotic attitudes » (i.e. authoritarian, conservative precepts) (Geffroy 1894b).[13]Geffroy, La vie artistique, 3, 252-253. Modern art historians usually refer to Geffroy as a Symbolist, despite the fact that Geffroy himself repeatedly expressed his distaste for Symbolism’s mysticism, metaphysics, and evocations of imaginary, vision­ary realms. He remained a faithful supporter of Impressionism, whose loyalty to nature he shared. In his reviews of Cézanne, the painter is described as an uncontested Impressionist, albeit it « original » and « special. » And while admitting Cézanne’s role as a precursor of Symbolism, Geffroy emphatically distances him from that movement on the grounds of Cézanne’s commitment to reality, nature, and truth. See Christian Limousin, Gustave Geffroy. Paul Cézanne et autres textes (Paris: Séguier « Carré d’art. » 1995), 13-15. Also, Paradise, Gustave Geffroy and the Criticism of Painting (New York: Garland Publishing, 1995) on Geffroy’s « lack of sympathy for Symbolism » (70-71) ; and his « drawing on the language of Symbolism in order to enrich the concept of Naturalism… » (74). Paradise also acknowledges Geffroy’s own uncomfortable fit with either Naturalist or Symbolist denominations (xiv), a dilemma that our awareness of Geffroy’s embrace of theories aligned with the period’s hybrid Spiritualist Positivist philosophy should dispel. His position resonated with that of several among his contemporary critics, including Hippolyte Lecomte and Léon Bazalgette who also embraced a hybrid Spiritualist Positivist approach with distinct phenomenological overtones, and categori­cally rejected Symbolism. For example, in 1898 Bazalgette denounced Symbolism’s infatuation with mysticism and the surreal, a propensity’ that ultimately—as he wrote— severed Symbolism from the modern world (« se tenant à l’écart du monde moderne ») and from the future.[14]Bazalgette, L’esprit nouveau,35.

Taking its cue from Gefffoy, then, this chapter argues for the existence, from the 1880s onward, of a hybrid Spiritualist Positivist aesthetic with phenomenological over­tones of immersive bodily-mental engagement with reality that provided an alternative to the conventional duality Impressionism/Symbolism. The existence of that « third » or « intermediate » aesthetic « space » helps accommodate seemingly ambiguous later developments in Impressionism (such as Monet’s late « series ») sometimes ascribed to a « crisis » or to a mutation of Impressionism into Symbolism. Rather, as posited here, the two movements persisted in their vastly different approaches to visual reality, with late Impressionist works remaining firmly rooted in the materiality of the natural world and worldly things, in distinct contrast to the mystic, metaphysical supernaturalism characteristic of Symbolist creations.

In the case of Cézanne, the confusion is further compounded by the fact that Spiritualist Positivist and Symbolist critical discourses often used the same critical tropes. For example, the topos of « sincere and learned, »[15]The topos of « sincere and learned » (naïf et savant), which first emerged during Romanticism, was embraced by both critics averse to Symbolism (Geffroy) and those aligned with it (Bernard, Denis, Morice, inter alia), as shown by Richard Shiff, Cézanne and the End of Impressionism. A Study of the Theory, Technique, and Critical Evaluation of Modern Art (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1984), espe­cially 3-13. Shiff attributes such shared critical ground and the resulting critical fusion of Impressionism and Symbolism in the 1890s to the perceived mutual rootedness of the two movements in subjectivity. For a different approach that foregrounds the proto-phenomenological climate of the period represented by Spirualist Positivist thought, see my article,  « Le Grand Tout: Monet on Belle-Île and the Impulse toward Unity, » The Art Bulletin, September 2015, 323-341. — employed by Geffroy, a foe of Symbolism, to characterize Boudin in 1883, Monet in 1886, and Cézanne in the 1890s—was co-opted by Symbolist critics to describe Cézanne as well, including Charles Morice, Émile Bernard and Louis Vauxcelles, among others. Thus for Morice, Cézanne was an exemplar of « learned naivete » {naïveté savante) living singularly through his eyes and brain (Morice 1907), an individual for whom—as the engravers Rivière and Schnerb who visited the painter in Aix in 1905 also asserted— »the eye is not sufficient, reflection is a necessity » (Doran 1978, 89). Bernard, who had met Cézanne in Aix and watched him paint in 1904, stressed Cézanne’s ties to the most « materialist » among the Impressionists, Camille Pissarro, and wrote of his art as « so sincere and so naively learned… » and the result of « an eye always on the alert, a mind always in contemplation, this is Paul Cézanne » (Bernard 1978, 33, 42). Cézanne’s eye transmitted sensations from nature and his mind organized them so they could be « realized » in visual form.[16]Bernard cited Cézanne as saying: « In the painter there are two things: the eye and the mind, both must help each other. One must work to bring about their mutual develop­ment: for the eye, through the vision of nature, for the mind by means of the logic of organized sensations that provides the means of expression » (Bernard, 37). Finally, Vauxcelles asserted that Cézanne’s sharp gaze pen­etrated the surface of reality in search of hidden truths (Vauxcelles 1905).

Closely associated with the theme of innocent yet cerebral vision was the Spiritualist Positivist notion of the painter’s focused and conscious awareness engaged in all-absorptive and single-minded contemplation of his motif, a notion akin to the concept of phenomenological « intentionality. »[17]On intentionality, see Joseph Kockelmans, A First Introduction to Husserls Phenomenology (Louvain: Duquesne University Press, 1967), 143-146. According to Vauxcelles: « It was an unforget­table sight that of Cézanne seated at his easel and looking at the countryside. He was truly alone in the world, ardent, concentrated, attentive, respectful » (Vauxcelles 1905). Maurice Denis asserted in a 1907 article published in L’Occident that the result was a fusion of the painter’s being with that of his object; Cézanne’s paintings seemed as much part of their maker’s perception as of the object’s alien identity. Subject and object co-existed in perfect harmony (Bernard 1978, 168).

Intense contemplative and untainted scrutiny in turn gave rise to two parallel simi­les, both of which connoted ideas of unmediated one-ness with nature and the uni­verse: that of an innocent child wondrously open to the world around it;[18]On the history of the joint conceits of the « child » and the « savage, » their re-emer­gence in Symbolist criticism, and links to Primitivism, see Burhan, « Vision and Visionaries. Nineteenth Century Psychological Theory, the Occult Sciences and the Formation of the Symbolist Aesthetic in France » (PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1979), 237-276. and that of an ascetic monk, an inhabitant of a remote, still innocent age, in whom inner and outer vision became intertwined. Vauxcelles described Cézanne in front of nature as « an ecstatic child » (« Un enfant extasié ») and as the new Fra Angelico (Vauxcelles 1905). The critic Roger Marx referred to him as possessed with « the simplicity dear to the masters of olden times » (Marx 1904, 463). For André Pératé, finally, Cézanne was « a Trappist monk » (Pératé 1907). Nearly all critics mentioned El Greco (as Merleau-Ponty later did in « Cézanne’s Doubt »), whose pulsating forms and unified color pallet of blue tonalities fusing palpable objects and impalpable ether suggested a live material universe.

Monks and children also stood as paradigms of the phenomenological injunction for a creator’s spiritual innocence and moral purity as implicit rebuttals of what critics per­ceived as the corrupt, degenerate state of present-day society and arts. « Forgetful of all systems, » Cézanne had deliberately removed himself from the civilized world, noted Morice (1907). For Bernard, such a voluntary removal from normative structures (of thought, of behavior, of learning) explained Cézanne’s disdain for the official centers of art instruction and their academically minted systems of representation, slavish cop­ies of nature that Bernard compared to mere photographs or, in his words, to « the sad photographic catastrophe that the École des Beaux-Arts forces on us on a daily basis. » Rather than imitating reality and « the materialism of this kind of world, » Cézanne, by contrast, looked for the inner essence of things. His « awkwardness » (« gaucherie »)) though deliberate, was the authenticating mark of his refusal to comply with the picto­rial canon, and a confirmation of a fundamental sincerity’ that allowed him to pierce through surface appearances into the true heart of « things » (Bernard 1978, 39).

Cézanne, the critics contended, succeeded in conveying that inner truth by means of the « robust » and coarse materiality of his facture and his application of an abstracting process that pared down inessential details so as to lay bare his motif’s signifying core. Bernard, for instance, felt that Cézanne depicted his motifs not by imitating their exter­nal form, but by using the material properties of his craft and medium to expose their inner essence in a process analogous to transubstantiation (Bernard 1978, 39). Cézanne was thus unique in his ability to perceive and extract the true beauty of the world, and therefore the only one possessing accurate vision, Bernard concluded (Bernard 1978, 38). For Pératé, intense and persistent labor—similar to the hard toil of a humble arti­san—was the painter’s method for attaining meaning invested in matter and form. Viewing Cézanne’s Cardplayers at the Salon d’Automne of 1907, he determined that « simplification of detail and the quasi-eternal nature of matter, » formal reduction (such as Taine advised and later phenomenologists theorized) [19]Phenomenological « reduction, » as Husserl defined it, alluded to the process by which the subject’s knowledge moved from the realm of « facts » (sensory reality) to that of « essences » (inner truths). Edmund Husserl, Ideen, 1, 6, cited in Kockelmans, Phenomenology, 30. and dense materiality became Cézanne’s strategies for extracting and expressing his painted motif’s eternal essence (Pératé 1907, 387).[20]Roger Marx (1904), credited Cézanne for the tendency of painters to express « the beauty, the life of matter, » and wrote that Cézanne « has forcefully brought back the love of beautiful matter and the male honesty of a robust and healthy practice » (464). According to Denis, finally, Cézanne’s paintings stood on their own terms through their tangible materiality solidly implanted in the real world as autonomous entities that neither imitated nor interpreted (Bernard 1978, 246). His pictures existed as objects, on a par with objects in the natural world. As Joachim Gasquet, Cézanne’s admirer and biographer, put it, Cézanne’s art of painting pro­duced a universe parallel and equivalent to nature, a world that abided by its own autonomous harmony that paralleled the one found in nature (« art has a harmony which parallels that of nature, » Gasquet 1926, 150).

A Proto-phenomenological Cézanne

The turn of the nineteenth century was also a period of Cézanne’s own involvement in theories, aesthetic and philosophical. Although he often disparaged theoretical specula­tion as a waste of time, theories nevertheless intrigued him, even if he eventually voiced only doubt and dismissal.[21]Gasquet cited Cézanne as saying: « No more theories! Works…. Theories are man’s down­fall » (Gasquet, 150). Despite such assertions, Cézanne admitted his new interest in theory in a letter to his friend, the Aix sculptor Solari: « Last Sunday, your father came to spend the day with me—the poor man, I drowned him with theories about painting. » Letter dated September 2,1897 (Cézanne 1984, 261). Athanassoglou-Kallmyer 2003, 149-185. We can attribute Cézanne’s burgeoning theoretical interest to his friendship with Joachim Gasquet (son of his high school friend Henri Gasquet), a young poet who studied philosophy at the University of Aix whom Cézanne met in 1896.

Gasquet’s academic mentor was Georges Dumesnil (1855-1916), a professor of philosophy at the university. A student of the Spiritualist Positivist Emile Boutroux at the Sorbonne and an admirer of Taine, Dumesnil was the author of Le Spiritualisme (1905), a fervent defense of the new hybrid philosophy. Promoting an individualized, self-conscious, and active perception of reality as opposed to the empiricists’ passive sensualist experience of external facts (« la sensation passive »), the book urged readers to free themselves from « the surface where phenomena occur » in order to reach « into the depth, into the essential and eternal truth where everything is grace, love and har­mony » (Dumesnil 1905, XI, XIV). That deeper and eternal truth represented the Absolute.

Gasquet became attached to Dumesnil; « I love him as a father, » he confided to a friend.[22]Letter dated August 4, 1898 to Charles Vellay. Joachim Gasquet unpublished papers, Fonds Gasquet, Bibliothèque Méjanes, Aix-en-Provence. He embraced his teacher’s view of nature as matter permeated with spirit, and its implicit pantheism. In 1897, he took Dumesnil, also an amateur landscape painter, to Cézanne’s studio. The visit exhilarated Cézanne, who offered Dumesnil two of his paintings as gifts. « You are lucky to have a good teacher like that, » he told Gasquet. « Dumesnil gives everything he says warmth, a sort of look straight from the heart that goes right through you and makes you think, whether you want to or not…. When I am painting the next day I sometimes remember what he said to me the night before … he is very clear and stimulating » (Gasquet 1991, 134). Even after Dumesnil was transferred to a post at the University of Grenoble, he and Gasquet stayed in touch, trading letters and visits. In a June 1899 letter, the philosopher asked Gasquet if he had read « De la Réalité du monde sensible » (On the Reality of the Sensory World), the phi­losophy dissertation of Jean Jaurès, his close friend and fellow Sorbonne student in the class of the Spiritualist Positivist professor Paul Janet. »[23]As graduate students Dumesnil and Jaurès taught philosophy at the University of Toulouse from 1887 to 1893. Dumesnil defended his Sorbonne dissertation in 1892, one year after Jaurès. Even after Dumesnil’s appointment in Aix (1893) the two con­tinued to visit each other until Jaurès’s assassination in July 1914. [If necessary, » Dumesnil wrote, « I will bring it [the thesis] with me to Lassagne [the Provençal village where Gasquet was spending the summer], because I really would like you to read it, if you have not already done so » (Athanassoglou-Kallmyer 2003, 179 n92).

Jaurès was already familiar to Gasquet. A socialist and a Dreyfusard in the 1890s (who moved to a conservative position after 1900), Gasquet had defended Jaurès’s liberal and Dreyfusard politics repeatedly in editorials he wrote for Le Mémorial d’Aix, Aix’s foremost newspaper.[24]Gasquet, « La pensée de Jaurès, » Le Mémorial dAix (July 1899). See Athanassoglou-Kallmyer 2003, 293 n105 for Gasquet’s early socialism, his Dreyfusard loyalties, and his support of Jaurès, Clemenceau, and Zola, as well as for Gasquet’s subsequent switch to conservative politics and nationalism in 1900-1901. Gasquet had also met Clemenceau and Zola, both of whom championed Jaurès. In September 1899, Jaurès appeared with Zola at public rallies in the Midi, in Carpentras and Marseille, events that Gasquet may have attended.[25]Letter to Gasquet by Mancard, dated Marseille, September 27, 1899. Fonds Gasquet, Bibliothèque Méjanes, Aix-en-Provence.

There is little doubt, then, that Gasquet would have followed his mentor’s sugges­tion to read Jaurès’s thesis, a text modern scholarship considers a forerunner of phe­nomenology (Jaurès 1891, 152).[26]On Jaurès’s dissertation path-breaking phenomenological approach, see Camille Grousselas, « Jaurès et Merleau-Ponty, » Bulletin de la Société des Études Jauressiennes105 (April-June 1987): 3-11; and Grousselas « Le monde sensible » in Jaurès écrivain (Nanterre: Erasme, 1990), 33-43; Anick Wajngart, « Jaurès, phénoménologue avant la lettre ? » Bulletin de la Société des Études Jauressiennes 105, 12-16; and André Robinet, Jaurès et l’unité de l’être (Paris: Seghers, 1964). In so doing, the young philosopher would have absorbed a good dose of proto-phenomenological ideas, including concepts of a united cosmic totality of matter and spirit, of « substance » as the essential truth beneath phe­nomena, and of man’s ability—through the senses guided by consciousness and intui­tion—to detect such truths. Jaurès, who taught a course on aesthetics at the Lycée of Albi in 1882-1883, eventually applied these ideas to the visual arts by calling on artists to convey, through the joint action of senses and intellect, both the material and spir­itual nature of their subjects, and beyond it, Nature’s essence: « The great artist, the great painter … sees at once with the spirit and with the eyes; and what best demon­strates that the mind and the senses sustain each other and are fused in the conception of substance [essence or truth] is the fact that the great painter, whether he knows it or not, is in his art a substantialist » (Jaurès 1891, 8).

Jaurès’s ideas, undoubtedly transmitted by Gasquet and Dumesnil, also resonated with beliefs, both pantheistic and phenomenological, that Cézanne began articulating in the 1890s. In his memoirs, Gasquet recalls conversations with the painter about Plato, Kant, and Lucretius, as well as about such lofty topics as « a philosophy of appear­ances, » phenomena, noumena, essences, and an all-encompassing consciousness (including « conscious trees ») that bonded man with nature (Gasquet 1926, 150). Indeed, Cézanne repeatedly described his own relation to nature in terms analogous to those later used by Merleau-Ponty as a reciprocal and embodied exchange of con­sciousness (« the landscape thinks in me »; Merleau-Ponty 1993, 11). Thusly Cézanne: « When I come face to face with my motif; I lose myself in it » (Gasquet 1991, 153); and « the landscape is reflected, becomes humanized, conscious of itself within me. I objec­tify it, project it, affix it on the canvas…. I think that I will be the subjective conscious­ness of this landscape, just as my canvas will be its objective consciousness » (Gasquet 1926, 132).

Reaching essences hidden deeply in nature became Cézanne’s mission: « Nature isn’t at the surface; it’s in depth » (Gasquet 1991, 166). And about the land around him: « I’d like to extract this essence, » he declared (ibid., 152). Despite his theoreti­cal doubts, Cézanne insisted on the necessity of systematic intellectual labor (« method ») in his mission to « conquer » the real from within.[27]« One has to have a method … we need theories, sensation and theories. Nature, I wanted to copy it, but I could not » (Bernard 1978, 94). For this, eye and mind had to work in unison: « The content of our art is especially what our eyes think, » he stated (Brummert 1990, 331 n58). In a May 1904 letter, Cézanne urged Bernard to use his « feelings » and « perceptions » in « penetrating what is before one, » and in « persevering in expressing oneself as logically as possible » (Cézanne 1984, 297-298). For Cézanne color was the best means for revealing the world’s essence. Echoing Taine, whom he had read, about the visceral power of color to express such essences, Cézanne asserted: « To read nature is to read her underneath the veil of interpretations, as colored taches … » [« taches » or « stains » being Taine’s term for patches of color, which the philosopher regarded as the most elementary way of visualizing the physical world] (Gage 1993, 210). He saw the process of creation as culminating in « realization, » that is in nature’s truth translated into material form as an analogous yet autonomous object, the product of the painter’s craft and media, pigments on canvas.

According to Cézanne such access to the deeper layers of reality could only be achieved through vision purified of civilized overlays. Although yearning for such a pristine state, Cézanne believed it to be an impossibility for modern man, inevitably tainted by the ills of civilization (Husserl and Merleau-Ponty agreed). « Alas, » he complained to Gasquet, « this is because I’m not innocent anymore. We are civilized beings … one can’t be ignorant these days. One is not. As soon as we are born we carry with us the notion of facility. One has to break it; it is the death of art … throughout we are immersed in this secular school which is society…. This I detest above all else. »

Accordingly, Cézanne expressed envy of the preternatural innocence of prehistoric cave artists who carved « their dreams » on the vault of a cavern, for « this is how one should be in front of a landscape…. Some days I think that I manage to paint in such a naive way. I am the primitive of my own path, » he concluded, adding that his « awk­wardness » represented his attempt to develop a means for « realizing » his vision as naively as his ancestors (Gasquet 1991, 137-138), a resistance to notions of « progress » and « culture » that resonated with early twentieth-century primitivist currents.

 

Coda: Rilke’s Cézanne

The phenomenological themes that underpin French critics’ interpretations of Cézanne, as well as Cézanne’s own occasional pronouncements, coalesce into a consistent and unified phenomenological vision of the painter and his works in the writings of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), who lived in Paris from 1902 to 1910. Although not himself a philosopher, Rilke nurtured a lifelong interest in philosophy and was influ­enced by the ideas of Kant, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, as well as by the writings of his contemporaries, including Bergson’s Matter and Memory (1896). Rilke may have also known the work of Edmund Husserl, who taught at Göttingen University in the first decade of the twentieth century, although the latter’s first phenomenological book, Logical Investigations, was not published until 1901 (Bishop 2010, 159-173).[28]Although the precise degree of Rilke’s acquaintance with Husserl’s writings is debated by scholars, his phenomenological affinities are accepted as fact. See Otto Friedrich Bollnow, « Rilke und the ‘Existentialismus’, » in The Philosophic und Rilke—Symposion 9,edited by Eckhard Heftrich (Freiburg-Munich: Verlag Karl Alber, 1962), 69-87; Herman Meyer, « Rilke’s Cézanne Erlebnis, » in Zarte Empiric (Stuttgart: J.B. Metzlersche, 1963), 244-286; and Kate Hamburger, « The phanomenologische Struktur der Dichtung Rilkes, » in Philosophic der Dichter: Novalis, Schiller, Rilke (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1966), 172-275. More recently, Fischer (2015) has argued against an exclusive connection between Rilke and Husserl, positing broader phenomenological influences on Rilke’s thought and practice, including the key role played by the poet’s experience of the visual arts, especially of Rodin and Cézanne. Born in Prague, Rilke led a peripatetic life prompted by his joint passions for litera­ture and the arts (he painted before turning to poetry). He eventually reached Paris in September 1902, and began working for Auguste Rodin, with the assignment of writ­ing the sculptor’s biography. It was in the process of closely observing Rodin at work that he developed two key tenets of his aesthetic philosophy: that of the artist’s ability to penetrate the inner being of things through protracted contemplation and relentless labor (Rodin’s motto was « work, always work »); and that of the artwork’s autonomous material existence as a thing in itself.[29]Letter to Clara Rilke dated Paris, October 4, 1907 (Rilke 1985, 22-24), in which the poet expresses his belief in « work at all times » as the artist’s primary mission. See also Anonymous, n.d., 31-32.

Rilke’s fascination with Cézanne developed as a sequel to his encounter with Rodin. Prior to his stay in Paris, he had seen a few Cézanne paintings in Berlin in 1900.[30]Letter dated October 10, 1907 (Rilke 1985, 42-13 n1). Cézanne was also a frequent subject of conversation among artists of the Worpswede community, to which Rilke’s wife, the sculptor Clara Westhoff, belonged. In Paris, he read Geffroy’s writings at the Bibliothèque Nationale. By 1907 he had also read Bernard’s « Souvenirs » published by the Mercure de France. Rilke’s first sustained expo­sure to Cézanne’s works did not occur, however, until his visit to the Salon d’Automne in October 1907, where a retrospective of fifty-six Cézanne paintings was mounted in honor of the painter, who had died a year earlier.[31]« I read a lot at the National Library [Bibliothèque Nationale]. Geffroy, Baudelaire, Flaubert, the Goncourts. » Letter to Arthur Holitcher dated Paris, October 17, 1902, in Anonymous, n.d., 19. Rilke sent the Salon d’Automne exhibition catalogue to Clara Rilke along with Bernard’s « Souvenirs sur Cézanne, » which appeared in Le Mercure de France on October 1 and 16, 1907. Rilke also met Edmond Jaloux, who wrote about Cézanne in Les Saisons Littéraires 1896-1903 (Fribourg, 1942), and later wrote « La leçon de Rilke » in Anonymous, n.d., 55-66.

In many ways Rilke found in Cézanne a personal and conceptual alter-ego (Webb 1978). Both men recoiled from urban modernity- and bourgeois civilization. And they both aspired to an ascetic lifestyle devoted to labor and artistic productivity.[32]In a June 27, 1904 letter to Émile Bernard Cézanne wrote: « I think the best thing is to work a lot » (Bernard 1978, 29) In an October 9, 1907 letter to Clara, Rilke described Cézanne in a manner similar to Bernard: as a monk leading an isolated and disciplined life in remote Aix and relentlessly devoted to work (« he did nothing but work ») (Rilke, 34). Rilke shared Cézanne’s interest in the problem of perception as it applied to both the visual arts and writing. And in an October 9, 1907 letter to Clara he described the painter’s practice as a conscious endeavor resulting from a dual process: first, a protracted gaze directed toward his motif leading to a virtual fusion with it, intellectually and corpore­ally; and, in a second step, the objective re-creation of that motif as if it were detached from its maker’s self (Rilke 1985, 36).

Intense and patient contemplation of the outer world such as Cézanne’s was, in Rilke’s mind, the appropriate way to penetrate the inner truth of nature’s reality and nature’s things (Fischer 2015, 98). In this process the boundaries between eye and mind, creator and object dissolved. In his poem « The Dog » (Der Hund), Rilke con­structed a metaphor of (phenomenological) contemplation around the evocation of a dog, an animal innocent of the complexities of acculturation and socially imposed sys­tems, as it sits alone in a landscape absorbed by the sight of « a world » that, as Rilke wrote, our (human) gaze always « re-establishes as true, » according to normative con­ventions. The animal pushes its head toward the sight persistently, eager to penetrate its real meaning, but to no avail.[33]The poem « Der Hund » (original and translation), appears in Rainer Maria Rilke, New Poems, edited and translated by J.B. Leishman (New York: The Hogarth Press, 1964), 292-293. The simile of the dog recurs in Rilke’s October 10,1907 letter to Clara, in which he reported words spoken in his presence by the painter Mathilde Vollmoeller as she stood before Cézanne’s paintings at the Salon d’Automne :  » « He [Cézanne] sat there in front of it like a dog, just looking, without any nervousness, without any ulterior motive. » And highlighting Cézanne’s integrity in his persistent pursuit of truth in nature, she added: « He only made what he knew, nothing else » (Rilke 1985, 46).[34]In an October 9, 1907 letter Rilke used the dog metaphor to refer to Cézanne’s hard labor as analogous to that of a dog laboring to satisfy a demanding master: « [Cézanne] sits in the garden like an old dog, the dog of this work that is calling him again and beats him and lets him starve. And yet he is attached with his whole being to this incomprehensible master… » (Rilke 1985, 40-41). See also Charles Dedeyan, Rilke et la France, 3 (Paris: Société d’édition d’enseignement supérieur, 1961), 136.

A truth-seeking Cézanne, just as his truth-seeking canine surrogate, was not satisfied with merely reproducing evanescent surface appearances. Accordingly, what Rilke most admired in Cézanne (as in Rodin) was the ability to create artworks as autono­mous objects, as natural « beings » exuding a sense of objecthood or « thing-ness, » that « indestructible essence » proper to things conceived and executed « free from all pre­tention, » as they are in themselves, with the immediacy with which they appear to consciousness (Batterby 1966, 82-83). In Rilke’s view, art conceived as a « thing » reached out to the eternal noumenal essence of elusive phenomena on which it was modeled: « The model seems,the art-thing is » (Snow 2006, 70 ).[35]Rilke’s letter to Lou Andreas Salome dated August 8, 1903. Accordingly, Cézanne’s terms  » réaliser » and « réalisation » referred to the process of the painter as a maker of things as « real, » solid, and enduring as the material objects found in nature: « To achieve the conviction and substantiality of things, » Rilke wrote Clara in an October 9, 1907 letter, « a reality intensified and potentiated to the point of inde­structibility by his [Cézanne’s] experience of the object, this seemed to him to be the purpose of his innermost work » (Rilke 1985, 34). And in a letter from Paris to his longtime friend Lou Andreas-Salomé in Berlin, the poet also confided his own yearn­ing for « making things … realities that arise from the craft itself. » For Rilke, that « thing-ness » constituted the core, the innermost « cell » of the artwork, and made manifest the essence of its maker’s creative singularity: « Somehow I too must discover the smallest basic element, the cell of my art, the tangible immaterial means of repre­sentation of everything… » (Snow 2006, 79).

Rilke’s experience of Cézanne’s paintings was decisive. Following Cézanne’s exam­ple, the poet abandoned his previously Symbolist style, which was replete with meta­physical allusions and deliberately vague, in order to pursue a new poetic aesthetic inspired by concrete things—animate and inanimate-—that he described with focused attention using a direct, earthy, and lucid form of writing. His new goal in poetry was to use words to transform facts and feelings into « objects of art. » He fittingly named his new poems « thing poems » (Dingegedichte), and regarded them as linguistic equiva­lents of both the material nature (« thing-ness ») of his concrete motifs and of the sen­sory matter that composed Cézanne’s paintings.[36]These poems were collected in two volumes entitled New Poems and dated, respec­tively, 1907 and 1908. Rainer Maria Rilke, Neue Gedichte [1907], translated by E. Snow (San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1984), XI-XII. See also Webb 2001, 280; Helen Bridge, « Rilke and the Visual Arts, » in Feeder and Vilain, The Cambridge Companion, 145-158. On Rilke’s use of the motif of « things » and « thingness » see James Rolleston, Rilke in Transition. An Exploration of his Earliest Poetry (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970), 120-192.

Rilke’s phenomenological interpretation of Cézanne and his art clearly resonated with new theories about a continuous and unified universe of live substance accessible to human sensory and intellectual investigation. Both painter and poet strived to make that vision palpable to their audiences, to thematize its materiality, to call attention to its foundational substantiality and intrinsic veracity, to use Caroline Walker Bynum’s expression. Rather than looking beyond the real, they emphasized its sensory imme­diacy: « Here, all of reality is on his side, » Rilke commented on Cézanne’s still lives at the Salon d’Automne. « The apples are all cooking apples and the wine bottles belong in the roundly bulging pockets of an old coat » (Rilke 1989, 29). Yet at the same time such ordinary physicality projected a sense of immutable essences and of the lasting character of things. Ultimately, Cézanne’s apples ceased to be edible, Rilke declared, « that’s how thing-like and real they become, how simply indestructible in their stubborn thereness » (Rilke 1985, 33). The poet’s insights would have far-reaching consequences. Hailed as an alternative to naturalist realism (à la Courbet), Cézanne’s new, « thing-like » reality was destined to disrupt centuries of illusionism.

References

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Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, Nina. 2003. Cézanne and Provence. The Painter in His Culture. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.

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Gasquet, Joachim. 1991. Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne. A Memoir with Conversations, trans­lated by Christopher Pemberton. New York: Thames and Hudson.

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Références   [ + ]

1. Isaacson, Joel. « Constable, Duranty, Mallarmé, Impressionism, Plein Air, and Forgetting. » The Art Bulletin, September, 1994,427-450.
2.Merleau-Ponty mentions the philosophers Maine de Biran, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, among phenomenology’s precursors. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. « What is Phenomenology. » In The Philosophy of Edmund Husserl and its Interpretations, edited by Joseph Kockelmans, 356-374. New York: Doubleday, 1967.
3.The name Spiritualist Positivism was coined by Felix Ravaisson whose writings in the 1860s exemplify that new philosophical method. Felix Ravaisson, La philosophie en France au dix-neuvième siècle (Paris: Hachette, 1895, first publ. 1867), 275. See also Etienne Vacherot, Le nouveau spiritualisme (Paris: Hachette, 1884), a period testi­mony by one of the followers of the movement; Ralph Barton Perry, Philosophy of the Recent Past. An Outline of European and American Philosophy since I860 (New York: Scribners, 1926), especially the chapter « Spiritualism in France. Maine de Biran. Cousin. Ravaisson. Boutroux, » 97-113 ff; Gouhier ed., Oeuvres choisies de Maine de Biran (Paris: Aubier, 1942), Introduction, 22-23; Dominique Janicaud, Une généalogie du spiritualisme francais. Aux sources du bergsonisme. Ravaisson et la métaphysique(The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969); Jean Beaufret Notes sur la philosophie en France au XIXe siècle. De Maine de Biran à Bergson (Paris: J.Vrin, 1984); Jean Lefranc, La philosophie en France au XIXe siècle (Paris: PUF, 1998); and the entry « Spiritualisme » in Encyclopédie philosophique universelle, Les notions philosophiques, Sylvain Auroux ed., vol. 2 (Paris: PUF, 1989-), 2444-2446.
4.Michael Marlais, Conservative Echoes in Fin-de-siècle Parisian Art Criticism (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University, 1992), 58-76, explains that by the 1890s, the aesthetic ideals of « unity, » « synthesis, » « abstraction, » and the quest for « essences » became shared concepts among members of opposing cultural-political factions, both left wing thinkers (Georges Clemenceau, Octave Mirbeau, Gustave Geffroy, Léon Bazalgette) and followers of a nationalistic, religious strain (Maurice Denis, Adrien Mithouard, Xavier Mellerio, Joris Karl Huysmans). Thus Huysmans, a one-time left wing Positivist turned conservative Catholic in the 1890s, called for a unitarian aes­thetic in the novel: « If possible, the novel ought to be compounded of two elements, that of the soul and that of the body, and these ought to be inextricably bound together as in life … we must trace a parallel route in the air by which we may go above and beyond, and create in a word a spiritualist naturalism (“un spiritualisme naturaliste »). It would be more impressive, more complete, more powerful than anything so far. » [my emphasis] Anette Kahn, Joris Karl Huysmans. Novelist, Poet, Critic (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1982), 21-22. While from the republican, monist, and athe­ist camp, the cultural critic Léon Bazalgette proclaimed that matter « contains soul » and « both spirit and matter originate from the same substance » (Léon Bazalgette, L’Esprit nouveau. Paris, Société d’éditions littéraires, 1898, 38). See also Katherine Kuenzli, « Aesthetics and Cultural Politics in the Age of Dreyfus: Maurice Denis’s Homage to Cézanne, » Art History 30/5 (November 2007): 683-711.
5. On Geffroy as an art critic, see JoAnne Paradise, « Gustave Geffroy and the Criticis of Painting » (PhD dissertation, New York: Garland Publishing, 1985); Patricia Plaud Dilhuit, « Geffroy, critique d’art. » PhD dissertation, University’ of Rennes II, 1987.
6.The first edition of Taine’s book was published in 1865.
7.See also T.H. Goetz, Taine and the Fine Arts (Madrid: Playor, 1973), passim and 72-73.
8.For Taine’s impact on Geffroy’s art criticism, sec Patricia Plaud-Dilhuit, « Gustave Geffroy critique d’art. »
9.Cézanne’s response appears in a letter dated March 26, 1894, translated in Cézanne 1984, 237. An earlier Geffroy article about Cézanne mentions the painter as part of the Impressionist group. La Revue Encyclopédique, 73/3 (December 15,  1893) 1219-1223.
10.Reprinted in La vie artistique, 6 (Paris, 1900), 214—220.
11. Reprinted in La vie artistique, 3 (1894), 249-251.
12.The conceit of « pure vision, » a topos of Romanticism, was revived and embraced by early phenomenological thinkers. It occurred in Taine, and later in Bergson, Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, among others. See Hippolyte Taine, On Intelligence, 2 (New York: Henry Holt, 1875), especially Chapter 2, 40-96. In his 1899 essay « Laughter » Bergson urged artists to seek a « purity of vision » that would « abandon all prepossessions » in order to « recapture a fresh and primitive impression. » Henri Bergson. Laughter. An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, translated by Cloudesley Brereton and Fred Rothwell, www.gutenberg.org.
13.Geffroy, La vie artistique, 3, 252-253. Modern art historians usually refer to Geffroy as a Symbolist, despite the fact that Geffroy himself repeatedly expressed his distaste for Symbolism’s mysticism, metaphysics, and evocations of imaginary, vision­ary realms. He remained a faithful supporter of Impressionism, whose loyalty to nature he shared. In his reviews of Cézanne, the painter is described as an uncontested Impressionist, albeit it « original » and « special. » And while admitting Cézanne’s role as a precursor of Symbolism, Geffroy emphatically distances him from that movement on the grounds of Cézanne’s commitment to reality, nature, and truth. See Christian Limousin, Gustave Geffroy. Paul Cézanne et autres textes (Paris: Séguier « Carré d’art. » 1995), 13-15. Also, Paradise, Gustave Geffroy and the Criticism of Painting (New York: Garland Publishing, 1995) on Geffroy’s « lack of sympathy for Symbolism » (70-71) ; and his « drawing on the language of Symbolism in order to enrich the concept of Naturalism… » (74). Paradise also acknowledges Geffroy’s own uncomfortable fit with either Naturalist or Symbolist denominations (xiv), a dilemma that our awareness of Geffroy’s embrace of theories aligned with the period’s hybrid Spiritualist Positivist philosophy should dispel.
14.Bazalgette, L’esprit nouveau,35.
15.The topos of « sincere and learned » (naïf et savant), which first emerged during Romanticism, was embraced by both critics averse to Symbolism (Geffroy) and those aligned with it (Bernard, Denis, Morice, inter alia), as shown by Richard Shiff, Cézanne and the End of Impressionism. A Study of the Theory, Technique, and Critical Evaluation of Modern Art (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1984), espe­cially 3-13. Shiff attributes such shared critical ground and the resulting critical fusion of Impressionism and Symbolism in the 1890s to the perceived mutual rootedness of the two movements in subjectivity. For a different approach that foregrounds the proto-phenomenological climate of the period represented by Spirualist Positivist thought, see my article,  « Le Grand Tout: Monet on Belle-Île and the Impulse toward Unity, » The Art Bulletin, September 2015, 323-341.
16.Bernard cited Cézanne as saying: « In the painter there are two things: the eye and the mind, both must help each other. One must work to bring about their mutual develop­ment: for the eye, through the vision of nature, for the mind by means of the logic of organized sensations that provides the means of expression » (Bernard, 37).
17.On intentionality, see Joseph Kockelmans, A First Introduction to Husserls Phenomenology (Louvain: Duquesne University Press, 1967), 143-146.
18.On the history of the joint conceits of the « child » and the « savage, » their re-emer­gence in Symbolist criticism, and links to Primitivism, see Burhan, « Vision and Visionaries. Nineteenth Century Psychological Theory, the Occult Sciences and the Formation of the Symbolist Aesthetic in France » (PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1979), 237-276.
19.Phenomenological « reduction, » as Husserl defined it, alluded to the process by which the subject’s knowledge moved from the realm of « facts » (sensory reality) to that of « essences » (inner truths). Edmund Husserl, Ideen, 1, 6, cited in Kockelmans, Phenomenology, 30.
20.Roger Marx (1904), credited Cézanne for the tendency of painters to express « the beauty, the life of matter, » and wrote that Cézanne « has forcefully brought back the love of beautiful matter and the male honesty of a robust and healthy practice » (464).
21.Gasquet cited Cézanne as saying: « No more theories! Works…. Theories are man’s down­fall » (Gasquet, 150). Despite such assertions, Cézanne admitted his new interest in theory in a letter to his friend, the Aix sculptor Solari: « Last Sunday, your father came to spend the day with me—the poor man, I drowned him with theories about painting. » Letter dated September 2,1897 (Cézanne 1984, 261). Athanassoglou-Kallmyer 2003, 149-185.
22.Letter dated August 4, 1898 to Charles Vellay. Joachim Gasquet unpublished papers, Fonds Gasquet, Bibliothèque Méjanes, Aix-en-Provence.
23.As graduate students Dumesnil and Jaurès taught philosophy at the University of Toulouse from 1887 to 1893. Dumesnil defended his Sorbonne dissertation in 1892, one year after Jaurès. Even after Dumesnil’s appointment in Aix (1893) the two con­tinued to visit each other until Jaurès’s assassination in July 1914.
24.Gasquet, « La pensée de Jaurès, » Le Mémorial dAix (July 1899). See Athanassoglou-Kallmyer 2003, 293 n105 for Gasquet’s early socialism, his Dreyfusard loyalties, and his support of Jaurès, Clemenceau, and Zola, as well as for Gasquet’s subsequent switch to conservative politics and nationalism in 1900-1901.
25.Letter to Gasquet by Mancard, dated Marseille, September 27, 1899. Fonds Gasquet, Bibliothèque Méjanes, Aix-en-Provence.
26.On Jaurès’s dissertation path-breaking phenomenological approach, see Camille Grousselas, « Jaurès et Merleau-Ponty, » Bulletin de la Société des Études Jauressiennes105 (April-June 1987): 3-11; and Grousselas « Le monde sensible » in Jaurès écrivain (Nanterre: Erasme, 1990), 33-43; Anick Wajngart, « Jaurès, phénoménologue avant la lettre ? » Bulletin de la Société des Études Jauressiennes 105, 12-16; and André Robinet, Jaurès et l’unité de l’être (Paris: Seghers, 1964).
27.« One has to have a method … we need theories, sensation and theories. Nature, I wanted to copy it, but I could not » (Bernard 1978, 94).
28.Although the precise degree of Rilke’s acquaintance with Husserl’s writings is debated by scholars, his phenomenological affinities are accepted as fact. See Otto Friedrich Bollnow, « Rilke und the ‘Existentialismus’, » in The Philosophic und Rilke—Symposion 9,edited by Eckhard Heftrich (Freiburg-Munich: Verlag Karl Alber, 1962), 69-87; Herman Meyer, « Rilke’s Cézanne Erlebnis, » in Zarte Empiric (Stuttgart: J.B. Metzlersche, 1963), 244-286; and Kate Hamburger, « The phanomenologische Struktur der Dichtung Rilkes, » in Philosophic der Dichter: Novalis, Schiller, Rilke (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1966), 172-275. More recently, Fischer (2015) has argued against an exclusive connection between Rilke and Husserl, positing broader phenomenological influences on Rilke’s thought and practice, including the key role played by the poet’s experience of the visual arts, especially of Rodin and Cézanne.
29.Letter to Clara Rilke dated Paris, October 4, 1907 (Rilke 1985, 22-24), in which the poet expresses his belief in « work at all times » as the artist’s primary mission. See also Anonymous, n.d., 31-32.
30.Letter dated October 10, 1907 (Rilke 1985, 42-13 n1).
31.« I read a lot at the National Library [Bibliothèque Nationale]. Geffroy, Baudelaire, Flaubert, the Goncourts. » Letter to Arthur Holitcher dated Paris, October 17, 1902, in Anonymous, n.d., 19. Rilke sent the Salon d’Automne exhibition catalogue to Clara Rilke along with Bernard’s « Souvenirs sur Cézanne, » which appeared in Le Mercure de France on October 1 and 16, 1907. Rilke also met Edmond Jaloux, who wrote about Cézanne in Les Saisons Littéraires 1896-1903 (Fribourg, 1942), and later wrote « La leçon de Rilke » in Anonymous, n.d., 55-66.
32.In a June 27, 1904 letter to Émile Bernard Cézanne wrote: « I think the best thing is to work a lot » (Bernard 1978, 29) In an October 9, 1907 letter to Clara, Rilke described Cézanne in a manner similar to Bernard: as a monk leading an isolated and disciplined life in remote Aix and relentlessly devoted to work (« he did nothing but work ») (Rilke, 34).
33.The poem « Der Hund » (original and translation), appears in Rainer Maria Rilke, New Poems, edited and translated by J.B. Leishman (New York: The Hogarth Press, 1964), 292-293.
34.In an October 9, 1907 letter Rilke used the dog metaphor to refer to Cézanne’s hard labor as analogous to that of a dog laboring to satisfy a demanding master: « [Cézanne] sits in the garden like an old dog, the dog of this work that is calling him again and beats him and lets him starve. And yet he is attached with his whole being to this incomprehensible master… » (Rilke 1985, 40-41). See also Charles Dedeyan, Rilke et la France, 3 (Paris: Société d’édition d’enseignement supérieur, 1961), 136.
35.Rilke’s letter to Lou Andreas Salome dated August 8, 1903.
36.These poems were collected in two volumes entitled New Poems and dated, respec­tively, 1907 and 1908. Rainer Maria Rilke, Neue Gedichte [1907], translated by E. Snow (San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1984), XI-XII. See also Webb 2001, 280; Helen Bridge, « Rilke and the Visual Arts, » in Feeder and Vilain, The Cambridge Companion, 145-158. On Rilke’s use of the motif of « things » and « thingness » see James Rolleston, Rilke in Transition. An Exploration of his Earliest Poetry (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970), 120-192.