An image of recto: Imaginary scene,
verso: Study of a woman and faun

Paul Cézanne

(France 19 Jan 1839 – 22 Oct 1906)

recto: Imaginary scene, verso: Study of a woman and faun

Not on display
Further information

Despite Cézanne's alignment with the naturalistic tendency in contemporary art (he exhibited in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874) he continued to produce, in a small way, imaginary or fantasy compositions in the strange, clumsy style of his so-called 'couillarde' (or ballsy) period. The dating of this drawing on stylistic grounds alone must therefore remain uncertain.

The extremely free, rhythmic, scrawly qualities of the drawing, where the sheet is treated as a totality, corresponds to Cézanne's intense admiration of Delacroix, both as a painter and as a draughtsman. People in modern dress in an outdoor setting had become, since Manet's 'Le déjeuner sur l'herbe' 1863, a favourite theme of the Impressionists. However, the latter always worked from life models in real settings and not from the imagination. In Cézanne's case the artificial qualities of his outdoor gatherings relates back to a grand tradition in French and Italian art.

Around 1876 this genre in Cézanne's work was on the verge of mutating into the first of his great series of bathers compositions. This sheet is of particular interest because it can be directly related to the painting in the Metropolitan Museum NY, 'The fishermen - a day in July' circa 1875. Our drawing could be either a preliminary study or a revision made after the painted composition. It is a brilliant example of Cézanne's exuberant, youthful style with its conscious investigation of baroque composition.

The verso bears a slight sketch of a reclining woman and a faun, together with unrelated numerical inscriptions in the artist's hand.

recto 1869-1876
verso 1869-1873
8.5 x 14.4 cm sheet
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased with funds provided by Margaret Olley 2003
Accession number