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Paul Cezanne, Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)

Key facts
Full title Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)
Artist Paul Cezanne
Artist dates 1839 - 1906
Date made about 1894-1905
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 127.2 × 196.1 cm
Acquisition credit Purchased with a special grant and the aid of the Max Rayne Foundation, 1964
Inventory number NG6359
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)
Paul Cezanne

Around 200 of Cezanne’s works depict male and female nude bathers, either singly or in groups, in a landscape. This large painting is one of three pictures of female bathers that Cezanne worked on during the final decade of his life. They represent the culmination of his lifelong investigation of this subject and the climax of his entire career, and were hugely influential on early twentieth-century art.

The subject of women relaxing in a woodland glade beneath an azure sky draws on a classical tradition of pastoral scenes of nude or semi-nude figures in an idealised landscape. More particularly, it recalls pictures of bathing nymphs and goddesses, especially the mythological scenes of Venetian Renaissance art. However, Cezanne’s painting has no clear narrative or literary source. The composition, which echoes the pyramidal base of a mountain, as well as the use of colour, serves to integrate the women with the landscape. Cezanne’s last paintings might perhaps be seen as his final celebration of nature and our union with it.

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