Room 41

Towards Modernity: Cézanne, Monet, and Matisse

The works in this room demonstrate the continued vitality of painting as an artistic medium in the early 20th century.

Paul Cézanne was born in Provence; obsessed by its sun-drenched landscape, he returned there throughout his life. In his later years Cézanne placed an increasing emphasis on structure and solidity, applying paint in regular, hatched brushstrokes, and using colour rather than light to convey forms. Ground-breaking compositions such as his monumental Bathers won the respect of younger artists, including Henri Matisse, and fundamentally affected the course of modern art.

Claude Monet had great admiration for Cézanne, whom he had known since the 1860s. Monet’s art, like that of Cézanne, evolved gradually. He explored light and colour in series of paintings of specific subjects, undertaken at precise times of the day and recording particular atmospheric conditions. In his garden at Giverny in Normandy, Monet painted near-abstract pictures where forms seem to dissolve to the point of disintegration. These echo the chaos of the First World War, when major artistic revolutions were underway.