Paul Cézanne, French, 1839-1906
Title: La Vie des Champs
Date: c.1876-1877
Medium: Oil on canvas
27.5 × 35.2 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 2022, with special support from the Government of Ireland and a generous contribution from a private donor.
Object Number: NGI.2023.1
DescriptionPaul Cézanne spent much of his life in his native Provence painting portraits, still-lifes, and landscapes. Independent in temperament and artistic outlook, he struggled to make his mark on the Paris art world. In the 1870s Cézanne became friends with the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro who encouraged him to lighten his palette and to paint outdoors. He went on to exhibit at the First and Third Impressionist exhibitions in 1874 and 1877.

Cézanne painted La Vie des Champs in Provence. It is an imagined rural idyll rather than a depiction of a specific landscape or group of people. In the centre, framed by trees, a statuesque woman balances a jug on her head. Four figures, a woman and three men, are pre-occupied at each side of her. Behind them, grey-blue water gives relief to the dense greens of vegetation. The villa on the distant hill conveys a sense of history and hierarchy. While Cezanne’s painting technique is distinctly modern, his subject-matter is rooted in neo-classicism and in the work of earlier artists like Nicolas Poussin.

The painting’s first owner was the art-dealer Ambroise Vollard. In 1895 he held the first solo exhibition of Cézanne’s work; this marked a major turning point in his career. Younger artists like Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso embraced Cézanne’s art and ideas. His innovative approach to representing three-dimensional objects in space had a significant impact on the development of Cubism.
ProvenanceAmbroise Vollard, Paris; Prince Antoine Bibesco, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 27 June 1931 (lot 75); with Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York; sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 6 January 1949 (lot 48); Galerie de l’Élysee; with Alex Maguy, Paris; with Acquavella Galleries, New York, from whom purchased by Mrs Elinor Dorrance Ingersoll; by descent to Dorrance H. Hamilton, until 2018; Purchased, 2022, with special support from the Government of Ireland and a generous contribution from a private donor.
Exhibition HistoryPictures, Drawings and Sculptures of the French School of the Last 100 Years, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1922, no. 17 (exhibited as 'Landscape')

Paintings and Drawings by Paul Cézanne 1839-1906, Leicester Galleries, London, 1925, no. 18 (exhibited as 'Paysage')

Cézanne, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 1934

Cézanne, Galeries Nationale du Grand Palais, Paris, 1996; Tate Gallry London, 1996; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1996

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