Mont Sainte-Victorie with Large Pine

Paul Cézanne (1887) • 26.4″ x 36.2″

Courtauld Institute of Art, London

The Mont Sainte-Victoire is a mountain in southern France, overlooking Paul Cézanne’s home in Aix-en-Provence. It became the subject of a number of Cézanne’s paintings as he is known to have painted it over sixty times.

The peak of the mountain attracted Cézanne all his life. He identified with it as the ancients with a holy mountain on which they might have set the dwelling or birthplace of a god. Only for Cézanne it was an inner god that he externalized in this mountain peak--his striving and exaltation and desire for repose. The stable mountain is framed by Cézanne’s tormented heart, and the peak itself, through more serene, is traversed by restless forms, like the swaying branches in the sky.

Poets, singers, storytellers, and artists have always used symbols and metaphors that speak to our hearts rather than to our minds. That’s why their ideas penetrate where everything else has failed. And that’s why we say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Images remain in our minds when all else is forgotten.

David wrote, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalms 18:2).  He was thinking of physical elements that convey spiritual realities. Each picture expresses a deeper thought, linking the visible world to the invisible realm of the Spirit. David doesn’t wander into definition and explanation, for explanation can blunt imagination. Each picture is left hanging in our minds—images that evoke mystery, arouse our imagination, and deepen our understanding

The Psalmist gives us language that should grab all of our attention. When we run into hardship, we need to go to God and not away from God. When we do, we find that God is a stabilizing factor that gets us through the pain and trials that we all face. When you are overwhelmed, do you run to your Bible to grab onto the promises of God? If not, you are missing one of the greatest ways that God has strengthened His people for generations.▪


The Man and His Mountain