The Tree

Maker and role
Artist: Piet Mondrian, Dutch, 1872-1944
ca. 1908

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Oil on linen
43 x 28 1/2in (109.2 x 72.4cm)
Credit line
Gift of Alice N. Hanszen
Accession number
Object type
Further information
The Tree illustrates Mondrian's description of the flattening effect of evening light on visible form in his essay "Natural and Abstract Reality." Gray, green, and subdued primary colors, along with obscure details and dim outlines, evoke the Dutch painters of the late 1800s that Mondrian imitated until his mid-30s.

Among Mondrian's variations of the same subject, trees were his favorite during this period. Painted at the end of a naturalistic phase in his work, the scene heralded a change in his palette to lighter colors. His trees gradually evolved into grids of pastel primaries. After seeing Cubist works by Picasso and Braque, Mondrian developed Neo-Plasticism, the style for which he is known: quadrangles of white, red, blue, and yellow divided by a grid of black horizontal and vertical lines.
Subject period


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