Guess the Painting: The Naked Truth

Can you identify this iconic bath time painting before the big reveal?

By Google Arts & Culture

The Large Bathers (1900-1906) by Paul Cézanne, French, 1839 - 1906Philadelphia Museum of Art

Clue 1

This work is one of more than 200 painted by the artist to feature nude figures bathing in various landscapes from 1870 onwards. It is a reinterpretation of the historical tradition of painting nudes dating back to artists such as Titian and Poussin.   

Clue 2

Traditionally, these nude scenes would be based on classical myths and antiquity, which would have been more acceptable from a moral point of view at the time. However, this painting and other similar works by the artist were not depicting classical scenes. They were instead focused on creating harmony between the figures and the landscape in which they sit. This would have been quite controversial for its time. 

Clue 3

Despite the controversy of the subject matter, when it was exhibited in 1907 it served as inspiration for artists like Picasso and Matisse who were exploring new areas of artistic expression. 

Clue 4


The artist used his pictures of bathing nudes to try and allow himself and other artists to move away contemporary trends in art. This work does indeed have a timeless quality, with the abstract forms and shapes of the figures almost reminiscent of a still life.    

Clue 5

This is why the artist was referred to by both Picasso and Matisse as ‘the father of us all’. His work laid the foundations for a move from Impressionism towards Cubism at the start of the 20th century.

Clue 6

The painting features the characteristic repetitive and exploratory brushstrokes that combine to form complex color patterns. 

Have you guessed it?

It’s The Bathers by Paul Cézanne. However, naming this painting isn’t quite that straightforward. This version, also known as Les Grandes Baigneuses or the Large Bathers, is just one of a series painted around the time of Cézanne’s death, many with similar or the same names. He worked on it for seven years and it remained unfinished when he died in 1906. It is currently on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

You can see some of the other versions of The Bathers  below.

Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) (about 1894-1905) by Paul CézanneThe National Gallery, London

This version is exhibited in the National Gallery in the UK. Zoom in and explore the painting, here.

Bathers (1874–75) by Paul CézanneThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

This version is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York but dates from a much earlier period, around 1875. You can see how Cézanne's style has changed over the years.

The Large Bathers (1900-1906) by Paul Cézanne, French, 1839 - 1906Philadelphia Museum of Art

Want to see more paintings on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art? Take a tour here.

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