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Paul Cézanne

The Sainte-Victoire Mountain


Start over without repeating yourself

Rare are the places whose name alone immediately brings to mind an artist. Montagne Sainte-Victoire, near Aix-en-Provence, is one of them.

In less than forty years - from 1870 to 

her death in 1906 -, Cézanne painted her 

more than 80 times, in oil and watercolour.

A native of Aix, he has  certainly passed his childhood

in  Provence and knew perfectly

the  region. But how to explain this

obsession for this tireless depicted landscape-

is lying  throughout his career?

Cézanne repeated that every painter should have for

master nature. Not to "copy" it - its landscapes

are in no way attempts at reproduction 

photographic sense of the term - but to "achieve 

sensations". In other words, what he was looking for was the restitution of what he felt himself in front of the spectacle of nature. And to carry out this quest which has 

occupied almost all his life as an artist, he needed 

of a subject that he knew perfectly, sufficiently

       in any case to be able to concentrate on its

       more sensations  than on any reality

       objective. He therefore made the Montagne Sainte-

       Victory the heroine of this visual adventure. painted-

       ture after painting, year after year, he posed  

       his easel around the Provençal massif.

       But of  all these representations, none

                 looks like  really to another. By

                 that he sometimes changed his point of view,

                 but above all  because little to  little, he

                 discovered things  that he didn't have

                 understood so far.  So one day he

                 for example wrote  to have realized that

                 "the shadow of  the mountain was  convex when he believed it to be concave". A subtlety that is more subjective feeling than topography, but  that he would never have grasped without her incredible perseverance.

Mount Sainte-Victoire , 1887

 Mount Sainte-Victoire , 1895

What we can take away:

Driven by our legitimate desire to raise  new challenges, we are generally reluctant to  do things we have already done. However, iteration is a great way to learn, discover, and therefore progress. Starting something over again is an opportunity to apprehend the situation from a significantly different angle, and thus to enrich oneself a little more each time.

Related topic: Method
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