Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Painting of the Week: Chateau Noir by Paul Cézanne

Chateau Noir by Paul Cezanne
Paul Cézanne, Château Noir (detail), 1900/1904. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week: Chateau Noir by Paul Cézanne

Today is Paul Cézanne’s birthday (he was born on January 19, 1839), so this Painting of the Week is dedicated to him. It is his landscape Chateau Noir, 1900/1904, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Chateau Noir by Paul Cezanne
Paul Cézanne, Chateau Noir, 1900/1904. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Chateau Noir is one of several paintings Cézanne made of a Neo-Gothic castle in his hometown, Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. Chateau Noir means Black Castle in French, and this nickname may come from the castle’s ominous-looking appearance. It does seem rather foreboding in this particular painting, but it looks much friendlier in some of his others.

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) was probably the most significant figure in late-19th century modern art. He’s often considered the forefather of movements such as Cubism, Fauvism, and Abstraction. Although critics and viewers didn’t know what to make of his unique style in his own time, legions of 20th-century artists have looked to him as an inspiration. His work is most commonly grouped with the Post-Impressionists, but he never considered himself to be part of any style or group.

Mont Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cezanne
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, c. 1890. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Photo via the-athenaeum.org.

In Chateau Noir, we can see how Cézanne broke away from naturalism in a whole new way. While the Impressionists had previously made waves for their innovations, their aim was still primarily to depict the world as they saw it. They simply had new ideas about how to do this. Although Cézanne was friends with several Impressionists and exhibited at some of their exhibitions, he disagreed with them artistically.

Cézanne was one of the first western artists to feel that there was more to any subject than its visual appearance at a given moment. His paintings combine multiple different viewpoints into the same composition; this was a groundbreaking approach that paved the way for Cubism. For Cézanne, forms were the most essential elements of a painting, and he created them by building up layers of often-vivid color.


In Chateau Noir, it’s quite clear that Cézanne didn’t care for conventional perspective. It is impossible to determine the spacial relationship between the castle and the trees. There’s a flattened effect, where these two elements seem to be directly on top of each other. The mountain is clearly in the background, but it’s difficult to tell how far away it is. These details were simply not important to Cézanne, who cared more about painting deeper truths than he did about simply reproducing what he saw in front of him.

Bibemus Quarry by Paul Cezanne
Paul Cézanne, Bibemus Quarry, 1898. The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo via the-athenaeum.org.

Many of Cézanne’s favorite artistic subjects, including the Chateau Noir, were located in the Aix area, where he spent much of his life. The best known is Mont Sainte-Victoire, which Cézanne depicted many times throughout his career. Nearby are the Bibemus Quarries, which he also painted frequently. Cézanne’s many paintings of rocks and quarries will soon get their own exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum.


If you like Cézanne, read about his bathers, card players, portraits, and fruit paintings.

Sources:
– “Chateau Noir“. Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art.
– “Paul Cézanne“. Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art.
– Harris, Beth Harris and Steven Zucker. “An introduction to the painting of Paul Cézanne” in Smarthistory, August 9, 2015.
– Savvine, Ivan. “Paul Cézanne Artist Overview and Analysis“. TheArtStory.org. Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors. June 1, 2011. Updated and modified regularly.
– Voorhies, James. “Paul Cézanne (1839–1906).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2004)


Alexandra believes that enjoying the art of the past is the closest she can get to time travel, only much safer. When she’s not being an art historian, she can usually be found ice skating and dancing. Visit her at ascholarlyskater.com.

Comments

More in Painting of the Week

  • Baroque

    Painting of the Week: Hendrik Heerschop, The African King Caspar

    By

    White subjects have dominated the Western art tradition for millennia, while people of color have been vastly underrepresented and misrepresented. The Dutch Golden Age is no exception. However, it has some sparkling examples of when people of color were portrayed in a noble, positive, and elevated...

  • Truth Coming Out Of Her Well Truth Coming Out Of Her Well

    dailyart

    Painting of the Week: Jean-Léon Gérôme, Truth Coming Out of Her Well

    By

    A fair-skinned woman, nude. Mouth open in either shock, rage, or maybe even disgust, as she emerges from a well. One leg is already draped over the edge, climbing out. With one hand she supports her body out of the well, with the other, she grasps...

  • 21st century

    Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus

    By

    Kara Elizabeth Walker (1969 – ) is an American contemporary artist. She is known as a painter, silhouettist, print-maker, installation artist, and film-maker. Last year (2019) she made the Fons Americanus a large scale public sculpture that tackles issues of race and colonialism head-on for the...

  • 19th Century

    Painting of the Week: Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey in the Oakwood

    By

    Sadness and desolation fill this scene like an oppressive melancholy. The sun is dying behind the horizon as fog enshrouds the ground. Skeletal trees rise above the mist and surround the crumbling ruins of a Gothic abbey. Silence pervades the air, and a solemn funeral procession...

  • Baroque

    Painting of the Week: Caravaggio, Amor Vincit Omnia

    By

    This young Cupid, recklessly painted by Caravaggio, follows Virgil’s saying amor vincit omnia (love conquers all). He triumphs over science, art, fame, and power, the symbols of which are strewn at his feet: musical instruments, laurel wreath, and pieces of armor. He has dark eagle wings and...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy