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Gallery Text

Cézanne’s fascination with the complexities of human perception and his desire to transcribe the abstract properties of vision established him as the central figure linking nineteenth-century impressionism with early twentieth-century cubism. Study of Trees exemplifies the problem of dynamically depicting depth on the flat space of a canvas, which occupied the artist for most of his career. Energetically applied diagonal brushstrokes slice the space of the picture, producing the suggestion of movement in and out of depth, and dashed lines define the tree trunks on either side of a winding country road. Remarkably, the rough, unpainted areas of the canvas seem as animated as the daubs of paint flickering across the picture’s surface like leaves in shifting sunlight. At the time of its making, Study of Trees was at the vanguard of intellectualized, abstract painting.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Paul Cézanne, French (Aix-en-Provence 1839 - 1906 Aix-en-Provence)
Study of Trees
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Arbres; Winding Road
Work Type
c. 1904
Creation Place: Europe, France
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1300, Modern and Contemporary Art, Early Modernism
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
64.3 × 48.9 cm (25 5/16 × 19 1/4 in.)
framed: 82 × 66.6 × 4.8 cm (32 5/16 × 26 1/4 × 1 7/8 in.)
[Ambroise Vollard, Paris.] Estate of Ambroise Vollard. [Paul Pétridès, Paris, 1947], sold; to James Lord, Paris, 1947. [Bucholz Gallery, New York, 1947], sold; to Lois Orswell, Pomfret, Connecticut, 1947, bequest; to Harvard Art Museums, 1998
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, The Lois Orswell Collection
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

W. Rubin, ed., Cezanne: the late work: essays, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York, NY, 1977), p. 277, pl. 74, color repro.

John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cezanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1996), pp. 524-5, no. 889, repro. p. 525

Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 20, fig. 25, pp. 56-59, 306, 374

Exhibition History

[Benefit exhibition for the Boston Arts Festival], Margaret Brown Gallery, Boston, 05/08/1956 - 05/29/1956

Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/21/2002 - 02/16/2003

Re-View: S118 European & American Art since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/13/2008 - 04/09/2011

Re-View: European and American Art Since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/03/2011 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 1300 Early Modernism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu