R380 – Le Bassin du Jas de Bouffan 1881-1882 (FWN116)
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In the diagonal view of the ornamental pool Le Bassin du Jas de Bouffan, that Cézanne painted at about the time of the Le Golfe de Marseille vu de l’Estaque painting (R390 FWN119), he chose as his subject a nearby sapling which occludes the pool, a corner of the pool itself, and the dense vegetation at the pool’s far side. Here his parallel touch is well developed and in fact may have even suggested this very simple subject: the scene is painted as if no other touch could do it justice. A stable base is easily found for the composition in the near edge, which Cézanne turns slightly toward the horizontal. This solves one problem but creates another: now the slanting right wall of the pool is unopposed by any other diagonal and ruins any possibility of balance. Cézanne solves the problem with his touch, that is, by painting the leaves of the tree as parallel brushstrokes which oppose the diagonal wall and counterbalance it. One cannot think of a clearer example of his petite sensation, that is, of conceiving the painting in terms of the parallel touch, and perhaps it is this clear purpose that makes the touch so perfectly appropriate.
Adapted from Pavel Machotka, Cézanne: Landscape into art.