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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.)


Recorded Ownership History
[Ambroise Vollard, Paris.] Estate of Ambroise Vollard. [Paul Pétridès, Paris, 1947], sold; to James Lord, Paris, 1947. [Buchholz 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., The Museum of Modern Art (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
  • Jodi Hauptman and Samantha Friedman, ed., Cézanne Drawings, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art (New York, 2021), pl. 166, pp. 140, 212

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 - 01/12/2021; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/08/2021 - 01/01/2050
  • Cézanne Drawings, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 06/06/2021 - 09/25/2021

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

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