This canvas is one of a set of plein-air paintings produced by Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence towards the end of his life. In it, Cézanne's gardener, Vallier, poses against the balustrade on the terrace of the artist's new studio, close to Les Lauves. Though dressed in the plain blue work-clothes of the Provençal peasant, the sitter conveys a sense of strength and solidity, and occupies most of the picture. The vertical thrust of the figure is offset by the strong horizontal plane of the ochre-coloured parapet. By applying thinned oil paints with transparent, geometrical brushstrokes, Cézanne breaks the picture down into small planes of colour. The serene, formal arrangements of earlier years starts to disintegrate, as form and colour become inseparable in Cézanne's quest to capture the inner structure of things.


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