Les baigneurs, grande planche (The Bathers, large plate)

Paul Cézanne

French, 1839 - 1906

Les baigneurs, grande planche (The Bathers, large plate)

1898

Color lithograph
16 1/2 x 20 1/4 in. (41.9 x 51.4 cm)
Framed: 29 7/8 x 31 9/16 x 1 1/8 in. (75.9 x 80.2 x 2.9 cm)


Paul Cézanne was among the most influential painters of the twentieth century, inspiring artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, 291, hosted the first American showing of Cézanne’s work: initially in a group show in 1910, in which these prints were exhibited, and a year later in a solo exhibition featuring the artist’s watercolors.

From 1870 onward, Cézanne created a series of studies of bathers, both male and female. Ambroise Vollard, a French art dealer, commissioned Cézanne to create these two Les baigneurs prints for his publication. The larger of the prints is based on the artist’s oil painting Bathers at Rest, 1876-1877 (Barnes Foundation, Pennsylvania).

By the time these prints were produced, Cézanne had abandoned his earlier Impressionistic style and began using flattened designs with strong structural lines that nevertheless conveyed a great depth of space. The artist created scenes from his imagination, rather than painting from life, yet these works have an atmosphere of immediacy, as if they were captured en plein air. As a boy, Cézanne had regularly gone bathing with his friends Baptistin Baille and Émile Zola, who would later be a famous French author. Perhaps these scenes are built from memories of those childhood adventures.