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When most people think of Paul Cezanne, they think of two
words genius and painting. For these two words he is consider by
far to be the Father of modern painting. Cezanne was born in
Aix-en-Provence in 1839. He was to die in the same town in 1906.
His life and art work was greatly influenced by this small town
He was the son of a shrewd business man, Louis-Auguste
Cezanne. As a boy growing up in Aix, Cezanne loved to study Greek
and Latin literature. At the age of thirteen, Paul met Emile Zola
at the College Bourbon. The friendship was very important for
both of the young men and lasted until the publication of Zola's
novel L'Oeuvre in 1886, in which the writer portrays an
unsuccessful artist whose character based upon Paul. Deeply hurt,
Cezanne broke forever with his longtime friend. At school, the
boys were nearly inseparable. Both were interested in writing and
literature. Emile and Paul would write letters and rhymed verse
to each other for the next decade or so in which they expressed
their most intimate feelings and emotions together with
information about their everyday life. Paul's father disapproved
of Zola and his family especially after Emile's father had died.
In February 1858 Zola moved to Paris together with his
mother. Which made Paul want to go to Paris to join up with
Emile. When in 1861 he finally obtained his father's permission
to study art in Paris, Cezanne's first attempt to settle down
there failed. Disillusioned with the art world, he returned to
his family after only six months and entered his father's bank as
a clerk. The following year he went to Paris again, and this time
he stayed. During this years he lead a rather frugal life due to
his father's meager allowance. Every year he submitted canvases
to the artists' Salons, but was regularly rejected. Cezanne did
his first show with a group named the "Society of Painters,
Draftsman, Sculptors, and Engravers" comprised of Pierre-Auguste
Renoir, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Pissarro and Cezanne
himself. The group's first show was in April in 1874, they
received bad revise. Cezanne did one more show with that group,
third for the group, in 1877. That show went better than the
"Unlike his artist friends, he generally avoided depiction's
of modern life and instead painted landscapes and still-lives of
more classical conception"(Lallemand 10). Cezanne had many
different characteristics of his work enigmatic quality, the
look of someone who were essentially a sculptor, no seasonal
variance in his landscapes. In the painting The House of the
Hanged Man ,painted in 1872-1873, there is an eerie feeling
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Paul Cezanne Emile Zola Small Town Young Men Claude Monet Allowance Renoir
illuminating form the piece. It is achieved by the the dull
shapes, cool colors, and thick granular patching. The look of
someone who was essentially a sculptor in present in The Negro
Scipion painted in 1867. Where you can easily see the definition
of muscle and the curvature of the human body. In most of Paul
Cezanne's landscapes you can not tell what season it is suppose
to represent. Spring, fall or summer. In Mill on the Couleuvre
near Pontoise the fields are green and lush but is it spring or
summer? That is for the viewer to interpret what season it is.
Paul Cezanne who influenced many, had a great impact on all
that follow his lead. His life is represented in his work which
shows us a great deal. The Father on Modern Painting is one of
Paul Cézanne, 1904:
"Drawing and color are not separate at all; in so far as you paint, you draw. The more the color harmonizes, the more exact the drawing becomes. When the color achieves richness, the form attains its fullness also. The contrasts and relations of tones - there you have the secret of drawing and modeling".
View of Auvers sur Oise
House on a river
Paul Cézanne was born to a wealthy family in Aix-en-Provence, France. His father was a successful banker whose riches assisted Cézanne throughout his life and his mother was a romantic who supported her son's career.
In 1852 Cézanne entered the Collège Bourbon where he met his good friends Émile Zola and Baptistin Baille. The three were famously close for a long period of time. After a classical education in Aix-en-Provence Paul Cézanne's father wished him to become a lawyer. However after attending law school for two years (whilst receiving art lessons) he could not bear the thought of continuing his education and left for Paris.
In Paris Paul Cézanne spent a large period of his time with Émile Zola, a French writer. He enrolled at the Académie Suisse, which is where he met his mentor, Camille Pissarro. After five months of trying to work as a painter in Paris, France, to no critical success, Cézanne returned to Aix-en-Provence at his father's request.
In his home town Paul Cézanne enrolled at the local art school and attempted to work as a banker but was also unsuccessful in this venture. Consequently in 1862 he returned to Paris to work as a painter. Disappointingly he failed the entrance exam to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts but continued to work between Paris and Aix-en-Provence and submitted many of his works to the Salon jury.
By this time he was good friends with Impressionist painters Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro and had met his future wife. However, he also had a long-term mistress - Hortense Fiquet - and in the Prussian war Cézanne and Fiquet absconded from the Paris and stayed in L'Estaque, France, until 1871.
In 1872 Paul Cézanne was living in Pontoise, France with Hortense Fiquet and his newborn son Paul (whom his father did not know about). Cézanne was still enthusiastically working on his paintings and was spending time outside with his idol, Camille Pissarro.
In Pontoise Paul Cézanne met Dr Paul Gachet, who was an admirer of his work and thus spent the years of 1872 to 1874 living at Gachet's home in Auvers-sur-Oise.
In 1873 Cézanne met Vincent van Gogh and in 1874 he exhibited at the Impressionist's first showcase. Cézanne's work was highly criticized along with the Impressionist's paintings but Cezanne's paintings were disliked by the other painters too. Cézanne's compositions from this period of working close to Camille Pissarro reveal that he was slightly influenced by the Impressionist's en plein air style of painting.
In 1877 Cézanne showcased 16 of his paintings to a great deal of scorn from critics and vowed never again to show his work at an Impressionist's exhibition. Although still influenced by Pissarro's Impressionist style Cézanne continued to work inside his studio and didn't believe in always painting from nature.
In the early 1880s Cezanne started to move even further away from the Impressionist's style of painting. He fell out with Emile Zola in 1886 because of his interpretation of Zola's novel, L'Oeuvre, and the two never saw each other again. In 1886 Cezanne married his mistress and inherited a large estate from his father, meaning he never had to worry about making money from his art.
In November 1895 Paul Cézanne held his first solo exhibition in Paris and Ambroise Vollard bought every artwork. He then moved to Aix-en-Provence permanently.
In the early 1900s his work was shown all around Europe to wide critical acclaim but throughout his life Cézanne was shy and hostile towards other painters and he maintained this attitude. He died in October 1906 of pneumonia and is buried in the cemetery in Aix-en-Provence.