Three-dimensional landscape

My dear readers, it’s vacation time for me, at least for the next two weeks. There is so much beauty and inspiration up here in the Alps that I feel I’d have to betray the artistic ideals of this blog by bombarding you with amateurish photographs and stories.

I will be staying nearby Courchevel in the French Alps, where the international crowd of super rich (skiing with bodyguards), rich (skiing with dignity), Russian new rich (skiing with fashion models, but mostly shopping and drinking), Russian wanna-be-rich (skiing clad in Bogner top to toe), and a few normal people (skiing with their normally happy families) becomes an inexhaustible source of amusing observations.

But first, let’s do the usual pit-stop for transit traffic going from Geneva to the Alps. It will be Duingt, a village hugging the shores of Annecy Lake.

When I was a kid, I wanted to live in the Middle Ages. I did not think of myself as anyone less than a knight, riding his horse from castle to castle, each hosting a princess in its highest tower. When I learned that apart from knights, the Middle Ages were about a lot of unwashed peasants, dental care without anaesthesia and toilets without soft toilet paper, I thought better of it.

But still, whenever I see a castle, my pulse gets more rapid, my car speeds down, and my lance comes up. No, I don’t usually carry a lance, it’s an imaginary one. And no, Freud has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Château de Ruphy

This castle is privately owned. Today, to own a castle is a big pain in the owner’s bottom, especially if it is an old building listed as a heritage site. It is cheaper to build a replica of the old castle than to live in one. With Sarkozoid France being Hollanded now, I bet some of castle owners wake up sweating from a dream featuring big steel blades sliding vertically down. French Socialists seem to be the kind of politicians who can and may burn their own house country with all its residents, just for the illuminating effect it may have on the public.

You will not be surprised that it is not only me who has been enchanted by this castle! This is a blog about art appreciation, after all. Cezanne fell under its spell in his 1896 painting, Le lac d’Annecy.

I do encourage you to get the big version for your reference here

Now, why is it a great painting?

I’ll give you a few clues, and we’ll talk about it more tomorrow.

  1. There’s an old tree at the foreground. Why is it there? How its branches and foliage are positioned? Why?
  2. There’s no sky. Somehow, Cezanne did not think it was necessary. Why?
  3. There’s a castle, but unless I told you it was a castle, you’d never know. Why did Cezanne feel it unnecessary to give a hint it was an imposing, old, if not romantic, structure?
  4. The title of this post is the fourth clue )

I would love to hear your view, with or without answering the clues. “Yes, you can!”



  1. OK, I’m gonna take a crack at this one. And this is pure guess work, so don’t get too amused:
    1> The tree is there to give you reference to where you are positioned as you look out across the water. It gives you a sense of dimension and distance?
    2> The sky is seen in the reflection of the water, so no need to paint it above. Plus , this brings out the mountains more.
    3> Because the castle is not important, it’s not the center piece of the painting, it’s the color, the sky, the water, etc.

    Tell me more.

  2. Either I’ve given too many clues, or you are too smart ) Anyway, it was a very insightful comment – thanks! )

    PS Only silly princesses who didn’t know how to get down from their towers are believed to have perished. Today, all the towers are equipped by signs explaining the purpose and use of stairs. )

  3. I’m afraid I’m getting addicted))
    Love this painting (despite can’t fight the feeling I would move the castle somewhere from the very center), it’s deep and tempting. Blue colors are not my favorite to be honest but Cezanne made it warm and cozy. Probably this effect is also given by the frame we get thanks to the tree and its branches –like we are hidden in the shadow and can rest on the grass watching that beautiful landscape. If there was the sky we wouldn’t be hidden anymore, but at the same time we get it in the ‘mirror’. Maybe the castle would dominate and would not allow us look further? Anyway I could spend hours looking at this.

    PS: Just wonder how many princesses died (are dying) in their towers cause the knights had exchanged their lances for the soft toilet paper?))

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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