A brief encounter between:
'Isabella' and 'The Murder'
John Everett Millais and Paul Cézanne
John Everett Millais, 'Isabella'
Paul Cézanne, 'The Murder'
Murder lies at the heart of both these paintings. In the first, Millais evokes an atmosphere of evil as the wealthy family of Isabella plot the death of her poor lover Lorenzo, with whom they share a meal. Lorenzo and Isabella sit together opposite her brothers who regard the couple with varying degrees of malevolence. Isabella later finds her lover's dead body, cuts off his head and buries it in a pot of basil, which she waters with her tears.
Cézanne's picture shows a violent murder in progress. It was painted early in his career and may have derived from a popular broadsheet. While Millais uses numerous props and expressions to convey his air of menace and impending violence, Cézanne instead uses vigorous paintmarks and a dark, desperate palette.