The Art of Crime — “The Murder” by Paul Cézanne

“The Murder” by Paul Cézanne (1869-1870)

An artistic genius of the mid to latter 19th century, Paul Cézanne produced “The Murder” amongst his earlier works, depicting an act of great brutality and violence.

The painting portrays two individuals assaulting another for reasons unknown. The distinctive features of the victim are nearly lost within the darkness consuming most of the image, her life and spirit subsumed beneath the overbearing shadow of the killer’s cruel intentions. The raging storm in the sky and the barren background are a grim potent for the victim’s last night.

As the victim fades into the background, the murderer and his accomplice stand out in stark contrast, showcased in a light that brings to the public’s eye the violent truth of their actions. Though they might have wished to hide their crime in the shadowy setting they have chosen for this assault, they are nonetheless seen by the viewer in sharp clarity. Still, though the murderer’s intent is no doubt to strip his victim of life and identity, it is he himself who is left dehumanized and faceless in his crime.

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