Paul Cézanne | Turner to Cézanne


About the Painter

A Post-Impressionist painter whose work was vital to the development of twentieth-century modernism, Paul Cézanne sought to fuse the lessons of the old masters with the direct observations from nature favored by the Impressionists. The precise location of the view depicted in The François Zola Dam has been the subject of debate, but recent scholarship suggests that the painting’s original purchase title, The François Zola Dam, is correct. If so, this is Cézanne’s only known view of the dam, which lies outside Aix-en-Provence, where Cézanne lived and worked. The painting is very representative of Cézanne’s approach to organizing and articulating a landscape on a flat canvas. The landscape is built up through an S-shaped configuration, beginning with the row of trees in the foreground and winding up through the dam to the blue peak of Mont Saint Victoire in the distance. The critic Roger Fry championed The François Zola Dam, saying, “It seems to me one of the greatest of all Cézanne’s landscapes, and I dare hardly say how high a place that gives it for me in all known examples of landscape art.”

More About the Painting

Oil on canvas
21 3/8 x 29 1/4 inches (54.2 x 74.2 cm)
National Museum Wales; Miss Gwendoline E. Davies
Bequest, 1951 (NMWA 2439)
Courtesy American Federation of Arts