John REWALD wrote an article for the catalogue of CEZANNE’s exhibit in Paris in fall of 1977

Below is part of this article, which refers to LEO MARCHUTZ’s contribution in a laudable way.

“.....I first came to Aix in the late spring of 1933 and there met the painter Léo Marchutz, who for several years had been living at Château Noir. He owned a copy of the April 1930 issue of The Arts with an article by Erle Loran (Johnson) on “Cézanne’s Country”, where the first photographs of the artist’s motifs had appeared. On his own, Marchutz had located a series of further motifs, especially at Château Noir and around Le Tholonet. He asked me to take photographs of these with my newly acquired Leica; it wasn’t long until I moved into the main building of Château Noir and we set out a systematic hunt of Cézanne’s motifs throughout the region of Aix, l’Estaque, Gardanne, usually on bicycles, which we often had to push uphill in the stifling heat, for Cézanne liked to work from elevated positions. In those days telephoto lenses were not yet powerful and color film was not commercially available. In many of my pictures the bulk of Mont Saint-Victoire appears much too small in relation to the foreground and the middle ground. We met with particular difficulties at the Bibémus quarry, where some work seemed to have been carried out after Cézanne had painted there. While certain of his motifs could still be readily recognized, we found it impossible to stand on the exact spots from which Cézanne had represented them. (We resolved, however, not to retouch our photographs, as Erle Loran had done occasionally in an attempt to match his more closely with Cézanne’s landscapes.) Since World War II the quarry has been reactivated and Cézanne’s motifs have been literally demolished.
Until 1939 I spent several months in Aix every year, staying at Château Noir and roaming the countryside with Léo Marchutz. I went there not only in the summer but also in the spring, before the leaves of the chestnut trees at the Jas de Bouffan could hide a number of the vistas Cézanne had painted. With evergreen pines or cypresses, unfortunately, there were no such seasonal aids. Sometimes we had to get up at dawn and, with Marchutz standing watch and checking the results, I climbed the trees to cut a few branches in the forest of Château Noir – something strictly forbidden by the owner – to disengage some overgrown sites or “liberate” views of the buildings which they obstructed (nature has since reclaimed its prerogatives).

In the north I extended my search to Auvers, Montgeroult, La Roche Guyon, and other places where Cézanne was known to have worked. Lionello Venturi, who was then preparing his oeuvre catalog of Cézanne – which appeared in 1936 – lent us photographs of little-known or unpublished works so that we could try to identify them. In exchange we communicated to him exact geographical titles wherever possible (though he never managed to make a distinction between the Bibémus quarry and the caves above Château Noir). In 1937 we provided our friend Fritz Novotny with a list of all identified motifs which he published in his book Cézanne und das Ende der wissenschaftlichen Perspektive (Vienna, Scholl, 1938).

After the war, from 1947 on, I returned every year to Aix, Marchutz meanwhile had moved into the Maison Maria, but our pusuit of more motifs had to be abandoned. Things were changing rapidly, forest fire ruined some sites, new constructions others. Eventually, Marchutz refused to leave his studio. He could not bear, for instance, to see the jas de Bouffan shorn of its vineyards, reduced to an island wedged in by superhighways. (By now it is, in addition, surrounded by hideous prefabricated housing developments, painted in dreadful colors).

The entire hill of Les Lauves is today cluttered with enormous, monotonous, barrackslike buildings between which Mont Saint-Victoire can no longer be seen anywhere. In 1953, Cézanne's studio - which I had visiteed many times – was threatened by real-estate developers; alerted by James Lord, I was able to form an American commitee of Cézanne admirers who raised the relatively modest amount necessary for its acquisition. The very day in 1954 that our purchase was concluded, we turned over the studio to Aix officials to preserve it for all time. It is now open to the public. Periodically, however, there are still attempts to encroach on its grounds for a projected widening of the Chemin des Lauves, now piously called Avenue Paul Cézanne. Had it been necessary to rescue Moses from the waters of the Nile as often as it has ben necessary to save the integrity of Cézanne's studio, the prophet would have drowned.

On various occasions, Marchutz helped organize Cézanne exhibitions in Aix, notably in 1956 at the exquisite Pavillon Vendôme, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the artist's death. In that show Cézanne's works could be seen at last in the same mellow light in which they had been painted, and as the visitors glanced through the windows of the Pavillon, they perceived the tiled roofs of Aix, the spires of its churches, and the tops of its plane trees that had been part of Cézanne's small but intensely loved world.

Léo Marchutz died in January 1976 at the age of seventy three. We buried him in the rural cemetery of Le Tholonet, in sight of Mont Saint-Victoire. I owe him my fervor for Cézanne.

John Rewald, 1977


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