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Paul Cezanne, In the Bibémus Quarry

Key facts
Full title In the Bibémus Quarry
Artist Paul Cezanne
Artist dates 1839 - 1906
Date made 1900-04
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 79 × 63.5 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from a private collection
Inventory number L1330
Location Room 43
Image copyright On loan from a private collection, © Private Collection
Collection Main Collection
In the Bibémus Quarry
Paul Cezanne

In the 1890s and early 1900s, Cezanne painted numerous views of the Bibémus Quarry. Situated not far from Aix-en-Provence, the site was renowned since Antiquity for its yellow-ochre limestone. But while the artist was mesmerised by the quarry’s chromatic qualities, he also had personal and intellectual reasons to explore this motif. Having spent time in the area as a child, Cezanne had a special connection to Bibémus. Moreover, these rock formations, dating ten to eight million years ago, appealed to his deep interest in Prehistory: ‘In order to paint a landscape well, I first need to discover its geological foundations’, he once wrote to a friend. Of the eleven oils and sixteen watercolours belonging to the series, this is the only one featuring a human presence. Sitting centrally on some eroded rocks, this tiny figure gives a sense of the scale of the massive cliff.

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