Cézanne’s Pyramid of Skulls Pendant - Paul Cezanne, 1901
Pyramid of Skulls is a c. 1901 oil painting by French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. It depicts four human skulls stacked in a pyramidal configuration. Painted in a pale light against a dark background, Pyramid of Skulls is exceptional in the artist's oeuvre, for "in no other painting did Cézanne place his objects so close to the viewer." For art historian Françoise Cachin, "these bony visages all but assault the viewer, displaying an assertiveness very much at odds with the usual reserve of domestic still-life tableaux."
Working in isolation in the last decade of his life, Cézanne frequently alluded to mortality in his letters: "For me, life has begun to be deathly monotonous"; "As for me, I'm old. I won't have time to express myself"; and "I might as well be dead." It is possible that the death of his mother on October 25, 1897—she had been a protective and supportive influence—accelerated his meditations on mortality, a subject which had obsessed the artist since the late 1870s, but did not find pictorial form for another twenty years. Cézanne's health started to deteriorate at the same time. The dramatic resignation to death informs a number of still life paintings he made between 1898 and 1905 of skulls. These works, some painted in oils and some with watercolor, are more subtle in meaning yet also more visually stark than the traditional approach to the theme of vanitas.
Pyramid of Skulls was painted at Cézanne's studio in Aix, where he worked prior to his move into the new Les Lauves studio in September 1902. A visitor to the studio in July 1902 wrote: "In his bedroom, on a narrow table in the middle, I noticed three human skulls facing one another, three beautiful polished ivories. He spoke of a very good painted study that was somewhere in the attic. I wanted to see it." But Cézanne could not find the key to the garret, and blamed his maid for its misplacement.
Made in the U.S.A. 1” x 1” Pendant on 18” cord (20” cord with included cord extender). Please note as these are hand made and very slight variations may occur as well as an additional day or two of processing might be required. Printed on metal, using our Museum Company® Proprietary Metal Printing Process.
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