France 1839 – 1906
Rocks near the caves above the Château Noir
[Rochers près des grottes au-dessus du Château Noir] c. 1904
oil on canvas
canvas 65.0 (h) x 54.0 (w) cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris , Accepted in lieu of tax 1978
© RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
Rocks near the caves above Chateau-Noir depicts a steep landscape dominated by large boulders and spindly trees. Paul Cézanne uses dabs of transparent oil paint as a way to infuse the scene with light. This technique creates a surface that resembles a watercolour. This close up detail shows a place familiar to the artist in Aix-en-Provence near the south of France.
Patches of colour of varying tones are applied in different directions for each shape within the painting. Cézanne’s palette is limited to greens, blues, mauve and contrasting orange-browns. The eye flickers across the broken painted surface. Dark outlines around the shapes help define the rocks and trees.
This landscape was painted towards the end of Cézanne’s life, just two years before he died. These later works were much admired by a number of younger Post-Impressionist artists and Henri Matisse, 30 years his junior, who purchased this painting.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2009
From audio tour Masterpieces from Paris: Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin and beyond Post-Impressionism from the Musée d'Orsay