The landscape of Aix-en-Provence, Paul Cézanne's boyhood home, dominated his painting during the latter half of his career. Cézanne abandoned Paris—and the modern urban subjects that fascinated his friends the Impressionists—to pursue the study of nature. He concentrated on the essence of what he saw, and he represented it with the basic elements of art: line, shape, and color. Although he developed his technique out of a passionate interest in the appearance of the real world, it has led him to be credited rightly with laying the foundations of twentieth-century abstract painting.
By the early I890s when he painted Landscape near Aix, Cézanne had developed a method of constructing forms with broad strokes of carefully modulated color. The technique is especially evident here in the vibrant parallel strokes that describe the foliage of the pine trees and in the flat planes of orange and white that define the distant village. In sections near the horizon and in the sky, however, loose strokes of blue and white interrupt Cézanne's disciplined landscape, suggesting the brilliant haze of a sunny afternoon in southern France.