In 1896, French artist Paul Cézanne created the painting “Lake Annecy” while in Haute-Savoie. The painting depicts a view of the mountain lake of Annecy near the Swiss border as seen from across the lake. However, Cézanne explored the landscape in terms of patterns of form and color rather than conforming to a picturesque view.
While Lake Annecy is situated in southeastern France, Cézanne thought it was almost too picturesque, suited “to drawing exercises for young Englishwomen.” In his hands, he turned the lake into an opaque area of color and made the sides of mountains tectonic masses. Interestingly, within this abstraction lies a subtle use of light. This is evident where one can see that he deliberately chose to bathe a tree with sunlight lending it a touch of warmth.
Today, “Lake Annecy” by Paul Cézanne is held at the Courtauld Gallery in London. While some may dismiss this work by thinking it doesn’t do justice to such a stunning location like Lake Annecy itself, others appreciate how Cezanne’s exploration creates his version of reality rather than just documenting what already existed on paper or canvas.