The theme of bathers in Paul Cezanne

The theme of bathers in Paul Cezanne
The theme of bathers in Paul Cezanne

Under the theme of bathers, the post-impressionist artist Paul Cezanne made a good number of pictorial works taking up a traditional theme based on the conjunction of nature with the forms of the female nude.

Cezanne (1839 – 1906) is considered the forerunner of modern painting. Today he is one of the most relevant figures in the history of art and his works are deeply valued, however, while the artist lived, he was a misunderstood genius whose canvases were not valued at all. His training began in Paris but before that he had worked with his father in a bank in Aix. From his arrival in the French capital, the copies that the artist made in the Louvre of the works of Caravaggio or Velázquez stand out. He met Pisarro with whom he established a great friendship and together they began to paint plain air; This introduced him to the circuits and exhibitions of the Impressionists but the criticism raised by his oil paintings made Cezanne decide to retire to a more intimate environment. At the end of the 1970s, Cezanne developed a more personal style moving away from the aesthetic guidelines of Impressionism and in his later years he began to be admired by the young artists who would form avant-garde aesthetics.

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Between the 1970s and 1990s, the artist produced a good number of paintings thatThey allow us to review and reinterpret a traditional theme: women in the bathroom, of which the nineteenth-century artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres had been the most outstanding figure, but whose trail can be traced much further back in time, to the sculptures made by Phidias with his wet cloth technique.

Cezanne would make a total of seven canvases and a good number of drawings and notes, among them we find:

– The Bathers (1874-1875, New York)

– Three Bathers (1879-1882, Paris)

– Five Bathers (1885-1887, Basel)

– Great Bather (1885-1887, Paris)

– Great Bathers of the National Gallery, (1900 – 1905)

– Bathers at the Barnes Foundation (Merion, Pennsylvania)

– The great sunbathers of Philadelphia.

In the works made between the 1970s and 1980s, the artist proposes an integration between the characters on his canvases and the surrounding nature, however, in later works Paul Cezanne poses the theme of the bather as a simple excuse to do a deep study of color and geometric shapes. They are works where the artist poses his artistic concerns, already developing a fully personal style that corresponds to his synthetic stage.


In his works in London, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia the artist pursues the essence of the elements, the simplicity of the forms that the artist had developed inhis works from the constructive stage but now Cezanne covers the geometric simplicity with a modeling made from color. More than geometric forms are now directed towards abstraction, thus representing the artist's perception but also their essence.

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