Narrator 1: 5–5. The Bather. Painted around 1885 by the French artist Paul Cézanne, 1839–1906. Oil on canvas, 50 inches high by 38 inches wide. 127 x 97 cm.
Narrator 2: This is a framed, vertical, rectangular picture, over four feet in height. It’s dominated by the figure of a young man. He’s wearing only a pair of white briefs, and is standing alone in a bare landscape. The ground is pinkish and flat, and suggests a sandy beach. It is tinged in some areas with green. In places, there appear to be shallow, bluish pools—left behind by the tide perhaps. The figure’s naked body is painted in pale pinkish flesh tones, but shadowed with the same greens, blues and violets as the sky and the watery ground.
The figure is centrally placed, his feet almost touching the bottom of the canvas, his head a few inches below the top. Behind him, the landscape stretches out, with grey–blue sky filling the top half of the canvas and the ground filling the lower half.
The young man has short dark brown hair, cut in a fringe across his forehead. His body is slender and boyish: his bare arms and torso are unmuscled, though the muscles of his legs are more developed. He stands, hands on hips, looking down at the ground as if in thought. His left foot is forward – that’s the foot to the right as we face the painting. It’s placed firmly on the ground, taking his weight. His right leg – to our left – is behind, heel off the ground, resting lightly on the ball of the foot. He seems poised to move towards us. But he’s caught in a moment of stillness in the hazy, dreaming landscape. Cézanne uses clearly visible brushstrokes to create both the figure and the landscape. They give the whole scene an indistinct, dappled effect.
Narrator 1: To hear the Collection Tour audio on this work, press 5–0-1.