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recto: Imaginary scene, verso: Study of a woman and faun

recto 1869-1876
verso 1869-1873


Paul Cézanne


19 Jan 1839 - 22 Oct 1906


Despite Cézanne's alignment with the naturalistic tendency in contemporary art (he exhibited in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874) he continued to produce, in a small way, imaginary or fantasy compositions in the strange, clumsy style of his so-called 'couillarde' (or ballsy) period. The dating of this drawing on stylistic grounds alone must therefore remain uncertain.

The extremely free, rhythmic, scrawly qualities of the drawing, where the sheet is treated as a totality, corresponds to Cézanne's intense admiration of Delacroix, both as a painter and as a draughtsman. People in modern dress in an outdoor setting had become, since Manet's 'Le déjeuner sur l'herbe' 1863, a favourite theme of the Impressionists. However, the latter always worked from life models in real settings and not from the imagination. In Cézanne's case the artificial qualities of his outdoor gatherings relates back to a grand tradition in French and Italian art.

Around 1876 this genre in Cézanne's work was on the verge of mutating into the first of his great series of bathers compositions. This sheet is of particular interest because it can be directly related to the painting in the Metropolitan Museum NY, 'The fishermen - a day in July' circa 1875. Our drawing could be either a preliminary study or a revision made after the painted composition. It is a brilliant example of Cézanne's exuberant, youthful style with its conscious investigation of baroque composition.

The verso bears a slight sketch of a reclining woman and a faun, together with unrelated numerical inscriptions in the artist's hand.



recto 1869-1876
verso 1869-1873

Media category


Materials used



8.5 x 14.4 cm sheet

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by Margaret Olley 2003


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Paul Cézanne

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 11 publications


Peter Raissis, Look, 'Auction coup', pg. 28-29, Sydney, Dec 2003-Jan 2004, 28 (illus.), 29. illustration is of (a)

The paintings of Paul Cézanne: a catalogue raisonné, New York, 1996, vol. 1: 169.

Paul Cézanne, Köln, 1978, 225 (illus.). 129, illustration is of (a)

The drawings of Paul Cézanne: a catalogue raisonné, London, 1973, vol. 1: 117; vol. 2: (illus.). 321 (a) and 322 (b)

Dessins de Cézanne, Lausanne, 1957, (illus.). no. 20 and 21, illustration is of (a)

Homage to Paul Cézanne, 1939. 76

Centenaire de Paul Cézanne, 1939. 59

Cézanne, Paris, 1936. 143

Cézanne: son art – son oeuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. 1: 298; vol. 2: 342 (illus.). no. 1230, illustration is of (a)

Look, 'The beauty of Cezanne's drawings', Sydney, Dec 2008-Jan 2009, 12 (illus.), 13. illustration is of (a)

Le maître Paul Cézanne, Paris, 1923, 167 (illus.). illustration is of (a)