Paul Cézanne (1839-1906): The Murder, 1867-8, oil on9/15/2021, 10:11:25 AM
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906): The Murder, 1867-8, oil on canvas, 80.7 x 65.5 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK . . 'The Murder', an unusually dramatic piece which conveys the brutality of the act, comes from Cézanne’s “Dark Period” during the 1860s. It may well be considered as the inception of modern expressionism. The painting depicts two figures attacking another, who lies on the ground, arms outstretched. The murderer is lifting his hand ready to give the final strike while his collaborator is using all the force of her heavy and rounded body to keep the victim down. The body of the victim has almost disappeared, only its outline head and arms are distinct under the ferocious force of the two murderers. The murderers have no faces, but the victim's is contorted with pain. Cézanne is not concerned with the identities of the murderers; they could be anybody. Cézanne presents the act as one of anonymous violence; their crime is given no explanation. The threatening sky, the suggestion of a riverbank where the body will be thrown, and the desolate surrounding space all contribute to the menacing nature of the scene. Though based in Paris and acquainted with the Impressionists, The Murder shows the influences of Romantic painters like Géricault and Delacroix in its dramatic intensity. It may have been influenced by the novel Thérèse Raquin by Cézanne’s school-friend Emile Zola, in which the heroine murders her husband.