Cezanne made nearly 200 paintings of bathers throughout his career. This piece, one of his largest, shows a group of nude women, apparently post-swim. Some dry themselves on towels, others relax in laying or seated positions. The women’s figures are rounded, as Cezanne uses them to explore form – they have been cited as influences for the cubist works of Picasso and Braque, and the sculpture of Henry Moore. Known for painting slowly, Cezanne worked on this piece for 11 years, and is thought to have used marble sculptures in the Louvre as references for his bathers.
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Date of work
Paul Cezanne Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) c. 1894-1905 Oil on canvas 127 × 196 cmThe National Gallery, London. Purchased with a special grant and the aid of the Max Rayne Foundation, 1964
Paul Cezanne (1839 – 1906) was a French artist who played a pivotal role in the development of modern art. As a Post-Impressionist painter, he developed his own characteristic style, with exploratory brushstrokes and close study of his subjects, painting still lifes, landscapes and portraits. Though he did not achieve much recognition until his later years, his practice had a lasting effect on modern painting, with both Matisse and Picasso among the many artists that cite him as an influence. In 1924, Tate became the first public museum in the United Kingdom to acquire Cezanne’s paintings, and they remain an important part of the collection.