Classical landscape?

At first glance, this looks like a classical landscape, with a winding dirt road that leads through the tall trees, past a field with corn sheaves to a lake.

Elements and surface

But a closer inspection reveals that the painting is composed of horizontal and vertical elements and surfaces. This largely counteracts the traditional perspective, with lines leading into the distance and colours gradually fading. The depth effect of the road is interrupted by the horizontal lines of the low bushes, the edge of the water and the hills behind. The buildings stand like flat boxes in the landscape.


All of this focuses attention on the ‘construction’ of the painting: the forms and surfaces, each with its own colour, applied in forceful, parallel brushstrokes. With this working method, Cézanne becomes a major influence in modern painting and sets out in a direction that would ultimately lead to abstraction. His ‘constructive brushstrokes’ and use of colour make a deep impression on younger painters, such as Maurice Denis, Paul Gauguin and Paul Signac, who follow his example.