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Introduction
A Series of Colored Patches
Painting in Reserve
Layering the Paint
Setting the Scene
The Role of Underdrawing
Rhythm of Execution
Fully Realized from the Start
Integrating the Ground - Cézanne
Integrating the Ground - Pissarro
 
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Setting the scene

Cézanne and Pissarro clearly render similar scenes, or even the same scene, with quite different senses of essential harmony. There also are times when they very clearly diverge in their handling of paint. In their use of underdrawing, one of the earliest stages of a painting, another fundamental difference can be observed. While this exhibition does not include any examples of Pissaro’s use of underdrawing, in 1881 we see Cézanne employing it a great deal. The extensive use of underdrawing in these particular paintings indicates that Cézanne is thinking about how best to start a painting; how all-embracing his notes need to be, as it were.

Detecting underdrawing can be done in several different ways. Sometimes it can be seen directly underneath thin washes of color. Other times, in more thickly painted works, it can be seen peeking out from under skips in the upper layers of paint. Finally it can sometimes be seen with an infrared sensitive camera. Infrared cameras take advantage of the fact that many paints are comparatively transparent or reflective of the infrared part of the spectrum. This is in contrast to typical drawing materials that absorb these same wavelengths. An infrared image will then show the underdrawing as dark lines beneath the painted layer.