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Artists’ Birthdays: January the 19th – Paul Cézanne (1839)

January 19, 2012
Would you like to know it all? We would! That’s why the theme for our Know It All Section for 2012 is Artists’ Birthdays. We hope that these posts will help to increase our and your knowledge in Art History. Lets get acquainted with more painters, lets recognise their artwork and be inspired by the masterpieces!

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Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906)

Paul Cézanne (19th of January, 1839– 22nd of October, 1906) was a French Post-Impressionist artist, who formed the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century’s new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. No wonder both Matisse and Picasso said “Cézanne is the father of us all”.

I’m sure there’s no need to explain who Paul Cézanne was – you must have seen at least a few of his mega colourful still lives. It’s just sad that lots of time had to flow, before everyone started admiring his artwork. Cézanne exhibited little in his lifetime and pursued his interests increasingly in artistic isolation and, altough he was contemporary of the impressionists, he went beyond their interests in the individual brushstroke and the fall of light onto objects, to create, in his words, “something more solid and durable, like the art of the museums.” No doubt – he has achieved it!

Cézanne was born at Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. He went to school in Aix, forming a close friendship with the novelist Emile Zola. He also studied law there from 1859 to 1861, but at the same time he continued attending drawing classes.

Against the implacable resistance of his father, he made up his mind that he wanted to paint and in 1861 joined Zola in Paris. His father’s reluctant consent at that time brought him financial support and, later, a large inheritance on which he could live without difficulty.

Melting Snow at L'Estaque by Paul Cezanne, 1870-71

In Paris he met Camille Pissarro and came to know others of the impressionist group, with whom he would exhibit in 1874 and 1877. Cézanne, however, remained an outsider to their circle; from 1864 to 1869 he submitted his work to the official SALON and saw it consistently rejected. His paintings of 1865-70 form what is usually called his early “romantic” period. Extremely personal in character, it deals with bizarre subjects of violence and fantasy in harsh, somber colors and extremely heavy paintwork.

Bridge of Maincy by Paul Cezanne, 1879

In the late 1870s Cézanne entered the phase known as “constructive”, characterized by the grouping of parallel, hatched brushstrokes in formations that build up a sense of mass in themselves. He continued in this style until the early 1890s.

Still Life by Paul Cezanne, 1883-87

Finally, living as a solitary in Aix, rather than alternating between the South and Paris, Cézanne moved into his late phase. Now he concentrated on a few basic subjects: still lives of studio objects built around such recurring elements as apples, statuary, and tablecloths; studies of bathers, based upon the male model and drawing upon a combination of memory, earlier studies, and sources in the art of the past; and successive views of the Mont Sainte-Victoire, a nearby landmark, painted from his studio looking across the intervening valley.

Mont Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cezanne, 1904-06

The landscapes of the final years, much affected by Cézanne’s contemporaneous practice in watercolor, have a more transparent and unfinished look, while the last figure paintings are at once more somber and spiritual in mood.

By the time of his death in 1906, Cézanne’s art had begun to be shown and seen across Europe, and it became a fundamental influence on the Fauves, the Cubists, and virtually all advanced art of the early 20th century.

The artistic career of Cézanne spanned more than forty years (1860 – 1906), he produced more than 900 oil paintings and 400 watercolours, including many incomplete works! You can see his artwork in the museums of the USA, the UK, France, Russia, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Canada, Japan and Australia.

For more images of Cézanne’s paintings, please click here.

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Information about Paul Cézanne found on Wikipedia and WebMuseum.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2012 12:35 pm

    Hey Kristina
    Great piece about Cezanne and thank you for your lovely comments about my Garden Decorator blog – it’s great to get feedback. If you have time, become a follower – I’ll be posting lots more ideas.
    Best, Sally Coulthard

    • January 19, 2012 7:21 pm

      Thank you for your nice comment, Sally. I have added your blog to my blogroll (my favourite blogs), so I will be coming back constantly! xxx

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