Celebrating Paul Cézanne

Celebrating Paul Cézanne


Paul Cézanne was born in 1839 in Aix, France. The son of a wealthy banker, he used the freedom provided by his father’s wealth and successto study art in his youth. However, like most parents at the time, his father opposed his desire to become an artist. Therefore, Cézanne enrolled in law school in 1859 and continued studying there until 1861, using art as a side hobby.

In 1861, Cézanne’s father relented, allowing him to enroll in art school at the Académie Suisse. After five months in Paris, Cézanne returned home to work with his father, still pursuing art on the side. A year later, he returned to Paris for a time to immerse himself more deeply in art. His early paintings from this period (including The Picnic and The Abduction) reflect a melancholy, romantic attitude in tune with the young artist’s feelings as he struggled to find his purpose.

In the 1870s, Cézanne began to focus more on painting directly from nature and even entered a few exhibits. However, his work was not entirely popular and differed from the other Impressionists still painting at the time. Pissarro, Van Gogh, and others heavily influenced Cézanne’s later artwork, which would develop greatly over the next four decades of his life. 


The earliest paintings of Paul Cézanne reflect a dark, melancholy atmosphere. Many of them, such as Dream of the Poet, focus on religious subjects, as was common among many of the ancient artists Cézanne may have studied. His earlier works, however, hardly reflect his true post-impressionist style.

Beginning in the 1870s, Cézanne began to create the colorful, nature-based paintings that would characterize the rest of his career. Some of his earliest paintings include The Sea at l’Estaque and Pierrot and Harlequin. These paintings showcase dimmer colors and somewhat dreamlike quality.

In his later years, Cézanne produced more of the post-impressionist art that he would become famous for. Some of his most popular paintings include View Through the TreesCard PlayersBend in the RoadStill Life with Tureen, and many others. He was fond of painting still-life art showing fruits in bowls or scattered on tables. Perhaps his most famous painting remains The Bathers, showing a group of men and women bathing out in nature. 

Each of Paul Cézanne’s later paintings reflects his love for nature and bright colors. Though influenced by many Impressionists, his work departed from theirs as he used larger brushstrokes to create a more solid effect in his artwork.

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