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The François Zola Dam

CÉZANNE, Paul (1839 - 1906)

Midday, L'Estaque

Date: 1877-78

Media: oil on canvas

Size: 54.2 x 74.2 cm

Acquired: 1952; Bequest; Gwendoline Davies

Accession Number: NMW A 2439

Collection: The Davies Sisters Collection

Cézanne frequently visited the hills of l'Estaque, a short distance to the west of Marseilles. This midday view of them is painted on paper, laid down on canvas, and dates from 1878-79 or 1883-84. By 1885 it belonged to Gauguin, who copied it in gouache and mused that 'the path winding across the broken ground through the young trees reminded [him] of the lonely path along which Christ wandered in sombre thought towards the Mount of Olives'. The remarkably flat and simply articulated composition recalls Cézanne's observation that the Provençal landscape was 'like a playing card, red roofs over the blue sea...The sun is so terrific here that it seems to me as if the objects were silhouetted in blue, red, brown, and violet... this seems to me to be the opposite of modelling'. Gwendoline Davies purchased this work in Paris in 1918. When on loan to the Tate Gallery in 1922, Roger Fry praised it as 'one of the greatest of all Cézanne's landscapes'.

Comments(11)

Marc Haynes Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
16 July 2018, 14:54
Hi Tom,

Thank you very much for spotting this error; it has been brought to the attention of our Senior Curator of Historic Art. Please bear with us while an amended text is prepared for publication.

Best wishes,

Marc
Digital Team
Tom
15 July 2018, 11:16
Your description of the painting as depicting hills near l'Estaque (a few miles from Marseilles) has not caught up with your re-titling of the picture as 'The François Zola Dam' (a short distance east of Aix). Given the importance of the painting (someone I know calls it the greatest work of art in any UK gallery) it would be good to sort this out.
Anne Pritchard
12 May 2017, 15:23
Dear Astrid,
Thank you for your enquiry and interest in our artwork.
Yes we do have Gwendoline Davies’s receipt. She bought this painting and ‘Provençal Landscape’ from the dealer Bernheim Jeune for £2,750 in February 1918.
Gauguin’s wife Mette sold the painting to Danish collector Edvard Brandes when Gauguin went to Tahiti in 1891 leaving her with very little money. He tried to buy it back in 1894 but was unsuccessful. Gauguin’s gouache based on this painting is now in the Ny Carslberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Brandes later sold the painting to Baron Denis Cochin, from whom it was purchased by Bernheim Jeune.

Thanks,
Anne

Dr. Anne Pritchard
Uwch Curadur, Celf Hanesyddol / Senior Curator, Historic Art
Astrid
12 May 2017, 08:36
Hello, I am studying this painting as part of my OU MA in art history....do you have the bill of sale from when Gwendoline Davies bought it along with another Cezanne ? Also wondering where Gauguin's gouache is now ? And who did he sell or give Cezzanne's painting to ?
It is a fantastic work..we are lucky to have it in Wales !
Thankyou..any information much appreciated.
Graham Davies
24 October 2016, 14:22
Hi Becky,
Thank you for your comment,
Of our three Cezanne oils two are on loan to an Italian venue until April next year. The remaining work The Francois Zola Dam is on display in our French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism Gallery [Gallery 16 on the map].
Becky
24 October 2016, 08:23
Morning - could you tell me whether there are any of Cezanne's works currently shown at the museum? I was planning on visiting this weekend sometime :)

Thanks in advance!

Becky
Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
26 August 2015, 09:45

Hi there Catherine,

This painting will be on display in gallery 16 during September. I have checked with our art department and we have no plans to move it.

I hope you enjoy your visit to the museum, and seeing this beautiful painting up close!

All the best,
Sara
Digital Team

Catherine Thomas
12 August 2015, 16:05
Hello ,
Please could you let me know if you have any paintings by Paul Cezanne exhibited atm .I plan to visit Cardiff in September 2015 , and a trip to your wonderful museum is always on the itinery .
Thank You
Richard Holt
5 April 2014, 08:43
I bought a print of this wonderful picture on visit over thirty years ago. I will come when it is again on show. It hangs opposite my bed and I look at it every morning. There is always something new to see whether in the colours, the deep structure or the perfect wholeness of the picture. It's a great and moving picture, This morning I came across exactly the quote from Cezanne you use in Alex Danchev's new biography, which he cites as a letter from Cezanne to Pissarro in 1876. An exhibition setting these two great friends side by side (as the painted) would be wonderful but probably has already been done or would be hard to do (I'm only an amateur in such things). Whatever you do in the future with your Cezannes, they will remain a jewel in your great collection and I'll always be grateful I saw this one and bought the print (for 2 pounds I think) all that time ago.
Amgueddfa Cymru
23 September 2013, 15:23
Dear marian berry,
Thank you for your comment, unfortunately this art work is actually being prepared for loan, and it will not be on display again at the National Museum Cardiff until June 2014. Graham Davies, Online Curator.

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