Cézanne's comment, in a letter to a younger artist, “I owe you the truth in painting and I shall tell it to you,” is often cited by commentators, including other artists, exhibition curators, art historians, and philosophers. Some take it up as a pointer to the kinds of truth available to painting, and to Cézanne's in particular. This article offers a fresh interpretation of the artist's efforts to register, by painting what he called his sensations, the potentialities and the limits of what it was to see the world's presentation of itself to perception. It takes as its starting point a recent biography of Cézanne by Alex Danchev and the same author's recent edition of the artist's letters.

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