The French painter Paul Cézanne is best known for his monumental landscape paintings. 'The Murder' is one of Cézanne's early paintings, an unusually dramatic piece which conveys the brutality of the act.
It was painted when Cézanne was still under the influence of Old Masters such as Gericault (1791-1824) and Velazquez (1599-1660). Cézanne's choice of this brutal subject may have been inspired by Emile Zola's (1840-1902) novel 'Thérèse Racquin' in which the heroine murders her husband. The painting's similarity with illustrations in the popular press suggests that they too could have been a source of inspiration.
Cézanne repeated the theme of 'The Murder' in a watercolour (now in a private collection) dated around 1874-75. The watercolour has the same composition, but the murderer's face is no longer hidden and the victim is raising her hand in supplication. In the watercolour the landscape is specific and resembles views of L'Estaque, a small town in southern France, which featured in many paintings by Cézanne.