R149 – Jeune fille au piano – Ouverture de Tannhaüser, 1869-1870 (FWN600)

Pavel Machotka

(Cliquer sur l’image pour l’agrandir)

Jeune fille au piano – Ouverture de Tannhaüser,

In Jeune fille au piano–ouverture de Tannhäuser, Cézanne sets out to solve the problem of incorporating two figures that are at very different distances from the painter into a flat, tapestry-like composition ; he succeeds admirably in this, the third version of the subject (the other two exist only in descriptions). Two figures are made to appear the same size by a simple and discreet expedient: if we discount the bottom of the pianist’s skirt, they occupy about the same space, leaning away from each other on opposite sides of a clear midline. The whole is also kept flat by an emphatic symmetry: the black piano mimics the white chair opposite. It is a sober arrangement, like the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna, and equally monumental. It is lightened somewhat by the arabesques of the wallpaper, but only barely; they seem very earnest in their purpose, which is to incorporate the young woman’s head into the plane of the decorative pattern.

Source: Machotka, Cézanne: the Eye and the Mind.