On the Banks of a River
Paul Cézanne, French, On the Banks of a River, ca. 1904-1905, Oil on canvas; 61 x 73.7 cm (24 x 29 inches), Museum Special Reserve Fund 43.255
In the fall of 1904, Cézanne spent several weeks south of Paris, near Fontainebleau. This unfinished view from the banks of a river depicts a village glimpsed from a bend of the lower Seine. Square and triangular patches of color define components of houses on the far shore. Areas of white canvas suggest air and movement; brilliant blues reflect the sky in the ribbon of water and curved strokes of the clouds. Directional patterning represents the river’s flow in a distinct band separating the composition’s upper and lower zones. Cézanne’s pictorial construction was of great interest to young artists who first saw it in these early years of the twentieth century. His techniques provided an approach to abstracting form from nature to a new generation of painters.