In 1901 he opens a studio at the Lauves. In front of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire he tries to extract from the landscape the fundamental geometries accentuated by the rare colors of his palette of watercolorist. He is no longer a professional but an experimentalist. Until his death in 1906 very few of his works are dated. A 43 x 54 cm watercolor of this scenery was sold for £ 3.55M including premium by Christie's on June 24, 2014.
In parallel with this tireless activity as a landscape artist, Cézanne reworks his traditional theme of the outdoor Baigneuses in oils on canvases that now reach monumental formats. Refusing that his colors intermingle, he executes a restructuring that upsets the realistic figuration and anticipates cubism. At his death three paintings are unfinished. One of them 210 x 250 cm is preserved at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
On June 21 in London, Sotheby's sells a study in watercolor and pencil on paper combining the two favorite themes of the end of his life. Baigneuses, la Montagne Sainte-Victoire au fond is estimated £ 4M, lot 10.
The overall composition is close to the Philadelphia painting but the figurative style is not comparable. The very small size, 12.5 x 21 cm, suggests that it was an early sketch for an oil on canvas which he will not have time to realize.
The bathers are divided into groups in a surrounding of trees. The center opens onto the landscape. Bodies, leaves and mountain are drawn without outlines by undifferentiated lines and colors. The perspective is lacking, leaving to the harmony of colors all the emotional power in this artwork. Having started from Impressionism and now reaching Expressionism, Cézanne is one of the deepest innovators in the history of art.