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25 February 2021

Cézanne frequently visited the hills of l'Estaque, a short distance to the west of Marseilles. This midday view of them, called The Francois Zola Dam, was painted on paper laid down on canvas in the late 1870s or early 1880s. Cézanne's wrote that the Provençal landscape was 'like a playing card, red roofs over the blue sea...The sun is so terrific here that it seems to me as if the objects were silhouetted in blue, red, brown, and violet.' Gwendoline Davies purchased this in Paris in 1918 (it says this on the Welsh National Museum's website, but can she really have been in Paris that year?). It's a painting that makes one long for the south of France – will we ever be allowed to go there again? – and Keats's words are at the forefront of one's brain when looking at this picture: 

     O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
         Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
    Tasting of Flora and the country green,
         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
     O for a beaker full of the warm South...

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