In Landscape with Ruins of 1897, Armand Guillaumin assumes a bold colour palette and makes use of greens, ultramarine and purples that present the scene of trees, hills and picturesque ruins atop the hills with vigour. A sense of artistic and expressive exaggeration in terms of the choice of colours is prevalent and lends an autumnal vivacity to the landscape.
These colours cannot be said to be non-naturalistic exactly, for they are to be found in nature. But they are certainly heightened for aesthetic effect in a way that shows the influence of Post-Impressionism. Rather than an Impressionist focuses on the variability of natural light and colour, there is an interest here in pushing towards distortion without breaking the constraint of the objective observation of nature as it is.
The brushstrokes show something of the influence of Guillaumin’s lifelong friend Paul Cézanne. They are short and sharply differentiated by colour, especially in the central hill of the distance. These strokes, juxtaposed rather than blended, show abrupt contouring as they irregularly recede from and approach the eye.
There is a certain conflict in relation to the status of the human in this picture as the ruins are made banal by both the brilliant colour and scale of the foreground trees and the hills. However, the artist’s and our viewpoint is at an elevation looking down into the valley and discloses the eye’s mastery of the scene.
Armand Guillaumin’s Landscape with Ruins is in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia.