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The Bathers, large plate (Les Baigneurs, grand planche)

One of Cézanne’s favorite themes from the 1870s onward was nudes (both male and female figures) in the landscape. His pastoral bathers continued in a long tradition in western art from Titian to Poussin. However, Cézanne’s figures lacked the realism, heroism, and allegorical trappings found in more traditional depictions, giving his images a rough, offhand appearance. This quality led contemporary viewers to equate his nudes with the crazy, unreadable painting in Honoré de Balzac’s short story “The Unknown Masterpiece.” Cézanne embraced his identification with the fictional mad artist Frenhofer. Although set in the seventeenth century, the story’s conviction that the human figure should be artistically expressed—not merely imitated—rang true for the later post-Impressionist artist.

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection also includes a proof edition of Cezanne’s The Bathers, small plate (Eskenazi Museum of Art 63.269).

Paul Cézanne
French, 1839–1906
The Bathers, large plate (Les Baigneurs, grand planche), from *The Album of Original Prints from the Vollard Gallery*(L'Album d'estampes originales de la Galerie Vollard)(no. 3)
ca. 1896–97 (published ca. 1898)
Color lithograph on paper
Image/sheet: 16 ½ x 20 5/16 in. (41.9 x 51.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.52