Paul Cezanne France 1839-1906

This week we celebrated the season and harvest time, by looking at the work of the artist Paul Cezanne. Born in Aix, France he is regarded as the master of modern still life paintings. His father was the co-founder of a French banking firm and had high expectations for his son. Cezanne was enrolled at the College Bourbon, where he met another gifted person named Emile Zola. The two became lifelong friends, and Cezanne pursued painting while Zola became a great literary figure.

When Cézanne approached his father about becoming an artist, his father replied:” We die with genius, but we eat with money.” The two were frequently at odds. Cézanne briefly studied law, as a step to joining his father’s bank, but it didn’t take. Zola was living in Paris and urged Cézanne to join him there. Cézanne’s father finally agreed and sent him off with an allowance to study art. The artist would resent this patronage all his life, even though he depended on it. His mother, Elizabeth, supported his desire to be an artist and tried to keep peace in the family by mediating between father and son.

Paul Cezanne soon found his style and refrained from becoming a part of other Impressionist artists during the late 1870s.Cézanne was nothing if not a loner. Friends, admirers, other artists were suspect. He worried that other artists would steal his secrets, especially his ideas about color He was convinced that Paul Gauguin had done just that. He found solace in working alone in Southern France. Cezanne met Van Gogh around this time and was influenced by his style. He would fixate on an object and do numerous studies and paintings whether it was a mountain or an apple. He wanted to capture “the green odor” of his Provence fields and “the perfume of marble from Saint-Victoire,” the mountain that was the subject of so many of his paintings. He was bold, scraping and slapping paint onto his canvas with a palette knife. “I will astonish Paris with an apple,” he boasted.

In his career, Cezanne created more than 900 oil paintings and 400 watercolors. His works influenced Pablo Picasso and countless other artists. Cezanne is regarded as the father of modern art, an opinion shared by Pablo Picasso, among other major figures of this century and the last.

“Paul Cezanne was my one and only master."

Pablo Picasso


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