The painting belongs to a group of works of the 1860s in which Cezanne appears to be exorcizing the demons of his tormented relationship with his family and indulging his early fascination with romantic literature, fuelled by his childhood friendship with the future novelist Emile Zola.

Some works of this group are based on identifiable sources but the majority are concerned with violent and disturbing themes such as the one depicted here: two figures have thrown a woman to the ground and prepare to murder her and dump her body into the storm-tossed sea. Intensifying the explosive force of the figures' actions is the brutality of the handling, with its turbulent swatches of paint and somber colouring. It is the only work of Cezanne's early subject pictures to be found in a public collection in the United Kingdom and the only painting by the artist which has received an Art Fund grant.

Provenance

P.Cassirer; Dr Julius Elias; Wildenstein.


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