Sample Essay on Large Bathers (1898) Versus Summer (1891)

Art is one aspect of the society that has been able to exist for a long time and stand the test of time. The one thing that the current generation shares with the former generations is art both in its performance nature and in fine arts. Today, every household has a representation of art either from this generation or from the past. People have different tastes for artistic features with some preferring the traditional forms of art while others prefer using the modern art. Modern art has borrowed a lot from the traditional art thus making the field of art a progressive one. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, art was more authentic and signatory as compared to that of the 21st century. One could simply tell the artist involved in creating certain artistic items by just looking at it because artists had specific line of artistic focus. Items were quite authentic because the art was more than just business but a personal expression of oneself in different capacities. The 21st art has been corrupted by technology and the corrupt nature of the world.[1]People would rather make items that bring faster income than spent days and resources creating an authentic product. However, this does not mean that there are no true artists in the current world.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comparison between two artistic items: the large bathers painted by Cezanne and the summer painted by Chavannes. The purpose for choosing these two items is because they are both workings of two great French artists who existed within the same period. Additionally, the two paintings display different views and understanding of art by the two artists hence worth of analysis. both paintings present cultural views and practices of the society at the time and since they are from the same part of the world, their comparison can bring an insight of the relationship between culture and art specifically on how art influences cultural changes.[2] The paper will be done in three phases including analysis, comparison, and synthesis. In the analysis phase, each item will be described giving reasons as to why they appear the way they do. In the comparison part, differences and similarities of both items will be discussed. However, to maintain the standard length of the paper only issues of significance to this paper will be analyzed. Lastly, the synthesis part will present the cultural and artistic significance of the two paintings. The three stages of evaluation will attempt to answer specific questions relating to the items including the subject matter of the paintings, the medium used, the techniques used, the setting used in the paintings and the effects of lighting on both objects.

Both items are paintings of women in a natural environment with a source of water, buildings, and trees. The background of the large bathers does not represent any normal village setting of the time. this is because Cezanne did not follow the artistic guidelines of the time that art was supposed to represent the natural environment that people lived in. he saw art as a way of expressing the unspeakable, therefore, rather than using the natural and the normal village setting to create his artistic work he chose to paint an imaginary village setting. The large bathers have been the basis of most modern painting because Cezanne’s stray from the norm inspired those who had the same opinion concern art but did not have the courage to voice or act on it. Another significance appearance on the large bathers is the way in which the women display their nudity, at the time, nudity for women was considered the norm but Cezanne did not see this as right. Therefore, he painted the large bathers painting in a way that the nudity of the women on the painting was hidden.[3] The reason for this display is that the artists wanted to create an item that would appeal to all generation including those that did not appreciate nudity for women as a lifestyle.

The summer painting displays the exact village setting of the time. Just as it is with the large bathers, the nature of the setting was inspired by the artist’s desires. Chavannes was an artist who conformed to the societal and artistic expectation of the time of using art to present the natural setting. Additionally, the artist had many connections in the political realm something that could not allow him to stray from the expected way of operation. The women on the painting seem relaxed and happy in their condition rather than the dull appearance of women on the large bathers. Additionally, the women on the painting are not shy of showing their nudity because this was the normal way of living that community.[4]

On the other hand, the paintings have some appearances in common regardless of the many differences between them. First, both artworks were done on canvas. This is because both paintings are oil paintings and marked were very important to the works of the respective artists. In the case of large bathers, Cezanne took more than seven years to come up with the painting, which was the last work he did paint. The summer paintings were also of importance to Chavannes because they inspired many other modern artists to come up with modern artistic styles. Both paintings display nude women near a water source. This is because at that time taking a bath along the river, lake or any other water source was a natural event. Additionally, they both use women because nudity for women was acceptable. Nudity for men was considered a dishonor to the masculinity. Nudity for men showed weakness, pervasion, and disrespect. However, Cezanne did use nude men on one of his paintings something that led to a lot of criticism of his work. His choices were inspired by the desire to break from the norm and create artistic work that would be of interest to people from all works of life.[5]

The two paintings show a lot of similarities and differences in most of their aspects including the setting used in the paintings, the medium used to create the paintings, the techniques used and the lighting effects on the paintings. First, both paintings were done on long lasting materials showing that both were expected to last long enough to influence the art industry. They are both oil paintings done on canvas for the purposes of preservation. Additionally, the use of long lasting material in making the objects indicates the importance that the respective painters placed on their work. Both paintings marked the onset of modern art and they were instrumental in influencing the generation of artists that came after in the twentieth century. However, the summer paintings of Chavannes were more acceptable in the society as compared to the large bathers. The negative that the large bathers received was not because of their inefficiency in the artistic world but their failure to conform to the expected standards of art at the time.[6] Change always receives a lot of skepticism before it is embraced. The large bathers presented a new level of art that people were not ready to jump into at the time thus the negative reviews on the large bathers.

Both paintings make use of the same items to present their ideas. In both paintings, there are women, and a natural village setting. In both cases, the nude women are taking a bath or rather their purpose of being in that setting is to get a bath. This indicates the relationship of nature and artistic work. Every artistic work must relate to something in the world. Some artists are intrigued by the past, some by the current state and others by the future. In this case, both artists were in the line of the natural understanding of art as being a representation of something either imaginary or in existence. However, the display of the items used in the paintings is different on both paintings. First, in the large bathers, the women are not thrilled by their current situation and they seem shy and cornered.[7] Researchers have argued that the purpose of Cezanne in these paintings was to display his distasteful nature of the female body. In most cases, women are used in art to display celebrations and events that are accompanied by happiness because that is the tradition understanding of the feminine attributes. The use of women in art was supposed to show continuity and importance of life, however, the women used in large bathers appear to be more of slaves than free. As stated earlier, Cezanne used an imaginary setting to paint the large bathers hence the reason as to why most of his works do not conform to the standards of the time.

Again, the village setting used in both paintings is different. The summer painting employs the use of the real village setting while the large bathers use non-real setting.[8] The reason for these disparities are similar to those explained before that Cezanne wanted to change the artistic understanding of the time by using an imaginary setting rather than the real environment. However, both paintings represent a countryside setting and both display the use of nature. This indicates that both artists appreciated the connection of nature and artwork. As noted earlier, art is supposed to represent something that exists either in the real world or in the imaginary world. As much as Cezanne did not believe in using the natural environment to make paintings, he still believed that nature had a part to play in artistic work.

The techniques used in both paintings vary greatly. The large bathers appear unfinished something that is consistent with other workings of Cezanne. He preferred this technique to indicate the continuity of his work at any time. Art as stated earlier is supposed to be progressive from one generation to another. Additionally, the natural environment is bound to change and since art is at the representation of the natural environment there should be left some room for improvement. Additionally, Cezanne preferred imaginary art something that was bound to change any time hence the unfinished nature of most of his work. On the other hand, the summer paintings appear complete.[9] This is because the paintings were supposed to be a representation of a real environment that was already in existence, therefore, the only thing intriguing about the painting would be the quality. The techniques used in large bathers paintings trigger peoples curiosity o what exactly was happening or was going to happen. On the other hand, the summer paintings help people appreciate their cultural practices and norms. In terms of lighting, Cezanne used different lighting techniques to show specific items that he considered worth seeing while concealing others. On the hand, the summer paintings used uniform lighting for the purposes of making the painting appealing and revealing every aspect of the object.

Both paintings had great significance in both artistic and cultural aspects of life. Both paintings created room for modern art by influencing other artists to embrace the new technologies at that time in creating long lasting materials. The summer paintings along with other works of Chavannes were of great significance in inspiring young artists to become better artists while displaying art as an important aspect of the society. Although the works of Cezanne are highly criticized due to the different course of action that the artist employed in creating his paintings, the large bathers inspired many artists to embrace the new understanding of art in imaginary world rather than the natural environment. Large bathers inspired artists to be creative and escape from the norm through their artistic works.[10]

In terms of cultural significance, the summer paintings helped to spread the cultural aspects of life upheld by the society at that time. Through the paintings, people were able to appreciate their natural environments and become more responsible in handling the natural environment. On the other hand, the large bathers inspired the development of a new culture where nudity was not supposed to be a public thing. Although most critics argued that Cezanne’s distasteful nature of the female body was born out of his frustration in social life, the fact that he did show it through his paintings help the society embrace new cultural practices that accommodated people like Cezanne who did not see the beauty of nude women. An ideal culture is one that is accommodative enough and since art is the representation of the natural living, artistic work should be accommodative of every person’s need in the society. The large bathers were instrumental to this transition.

In conclusion, art has a lot of significance in the lives of people. The large bathers and the summer paintings of Cezanne and Chavannes respectively are some of the great artistic work that ever existed. Both of these paintings are available in most parts of the world if not all. They have been the basis of many artistic activities and many 21st century artists use these paintings as the benchmark to their work.[11] There are lot of differences and similarities between these two objects but they all show the much diversity in the art industry.


Hu, Nan, Peng, Feng, and Gong-lian, Dai. “Structural art: past, present, and future.” Poetics 43.   (2014): 407-416.

Jiminez, Jill. Dictionary of Artists’ Models. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Kingsbury, Paul, and John, Jones. “Walter Benjamin’s Dionysian adventure on Google earth.”      Geoforum 40, 4. (2009): 502-513.

Lowrey, Carol. A legacy of art: paintings and sculptures by artist life members of the National       Arts Club. New York, N.Y. Manchester in association with Hudson Hills Press: National    Arts Club, 2007.

Mazzucchi, Anna, Elena, Sinforiani, and Francois, Boller. “Chapter 3-artistic creativity, artistic     production, and aging.” Progress in brain research 204. (2013): 45-69.

Nochlin, Linda. Bathers, bodies, beauty: the visceral eye. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University   Press, 2006.


[1] Nan Hu, Peng Feng, and Gong-lian Dai, “Structural art: past, present, and future.” Poetics 43. (2014): 409.

[2] Ibid., 413.

[3] Linda Nochlin. Bathers, bodies, beauty: the visceral eye (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2006), 45.

[4] Jill Jiminez. Dictionary of Artists’ Models, (Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013), 73.

[5] Anna Mazzucchi, Elena Sinforiani, and Francois Boller, “Chapter 3-artistic creativity, artistic production, and aging,” Progress in brain research 204. (2013): 51.

[6] Paul Kingsbury, and John Jones, “Walter Benjamin’s Dionysian adventure on Google earth,” Geoforum 40, 4. (2009): 507.

[7] Ibid., 510.

[8] Carol Lowrey, A legacy of art: paintings and sculptures by artist life members of the National Arts Club, (New York, N.Y. Manchester in association with Hudson Hills Press: National Arts Club, 2007), 142.

[9] Jiminez. Dictionary of Artists’ Models, 61.

[10] Nochlin, Bathers, bodies, beauty: the visceral eye, 113.

[11] Jiminez, Dictionary of Artists’ Models, 80.