The mountain Sainte-Victoire, with its jagged top, dominates the countryside around Paul Cézanne's hometown of Aix-en-Provence in southern France. For him, it embodied the rugged landscape and people of Provence.
Cézanne painted the mountain from different vantage points throughout his career. This painting is the most monumental. Areas of green and yellow lead the eye to the towering Sainte-Victoire, painted in cool blues and pinks. The sweeping pine branches in the foreground follow the contours of the mountain. This was one of Cézanne's favourite framing devices and is also found in Lac d’Annecy, hanging nearby. The timeless quality of the setting is interrupted only by the modern railway viaduct on the right and the trail of steam left by a passing train.
Samuel Courtauld recalled feeling ‘the magic’ when he first saw one of Cézanne's paintings in 1922. His passion for the artist means that The Courtauld has the largest group of works by Cézanne in the United Kingdom.