Paul Cézanne loved the scene: the Bay of Marseille along the Mediterranean Sea from the vantage point of L’Estaque, a village where his mother rented a house. In the 1870s and 1880s, he painted it more than a dozen times. Each rendering is unique, but the series has tendencies, with the rooftops of buildings in the foreground, a blue bay in the middle distance, and highlands in the background. Several of the best examples soon will be on display at Tate Modern in London in a major retrospective of Cézanne’s work that is just concluding a stay at the Art Institute of Chicago—a place of perhaps more than casual interest, because Chicago also was the hometown of Ernest Hemingway, who saw at least one of these L’Estaque paintings as a young man and then went through life claiming, enigmatically, that the pictures of Cézanne helped him become a successful writer.

 

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