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Among the greatest Post-Impressionists, Paul Cézanne was a French painter who laid the foundations for the shift from late 19th-century Impressionism to early 20th-century Cubism. His ideas were significant in the aesthetic progression of most modern art movements.
See the fact file below for more information on the Paul Cézanne or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Paul Cézanne worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
- Paul Cézanne was born in the French town of Aix-en-Provence, on January 19, 1839. He was the son of Louis Auguste Cézanne, a wealthy co-founder of a French banking firm, and Anne Elisabeth Honorine Aubert. He had two younger siblings, Marie and Rose.
- He attended the Saint Joseph school in Aix when he was ten years old.
- Three years after, he entered the College Bourbon in Aix (now College Mignet), where he met Emile Zola and Baptistin Baille. Cézanne, Zola, and Baille were known as “Les Trois Inséparables” or The Three Inseparables.
- In 1857, Cézanne enrolled in the Free Municipal School of Drawing in Aix, where he took drawing under a Spanish monk named Joseph Gilbert.
- From 1858 to 1861, under the direction of his father, he entered law school at the University of Aix-en-Provence, while also taking drawing lessons.
- He went against his father’s wishes and pursued his passion for art, leaving Aix for Paris in 1861. His decision was strongly encouraged by Zola, who was already in Paris at the time. Later on, his father reconciled with him and supported his career.
- Cézanne joined Zola in the hope of following his dream at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Unfortunately, his application was rejected and he attended the Académie Suisse for art studies instead.
- The instability of his personality resulted in a severe depression when he realized he was not good enough in his craft. He went back to Aix after spending five months in Paris, and worked at his father’s banking firm. However, Cézanne still pushed through with his art studies at the School of Design alongside his job.
- In 1862, Cézanne returned to Paris and stayed there for over a year.
- During his stay, he met Impressionists Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet.
- Pissarro had a formative influence on Cézanne; their landscape trip to Louveciennes and Pontoise resulted in a collaborative working relationship.
- His early work is sometimes associated with landscapes, including large and heavy imaginative objects in the landscape.
- Years later, his interest shifted from painting from direct observation to a light and airy artistic style.
- His later works show the development of a solidified, almost architectural painting style.
- During the Franco-German War in 1870, Cézanne went back to Aix with Marie-Hortense Fiquet, his mistress who he later married in 1886.
- They settled in Estaque, a small village in southern France, where he started painting landscapes.
- He also began to modify his subjects just as his Impressionist colleagues did. Some of his works during this time include L’Estaque, Melting Snow (1870-1871) and The Wine Market (1872).
- Pissarro invited Cézanne to live in Pontoise. There and in the adjacent town of Auvers, he started to learn the approaches of Impressionism from Pissarro, the only one of his colleagues who was patient and persistent enough to teach him despite his difficult personality.
- From this point, he spent most of his time exclusively painting landscapes, still lifes, and portraits. Pissarro encouraged him to lighten his choice of palette and taught him the convenience of using broken bits of color and short brushstrokes that were the distinguishing features of the Impressionistic style.
- Despite Pissarro’s guidance, Cézanne still had his own unique vision and his approach was quite different from that of the Impressionists.
- Although he applied the teachings of Pissarro, he did not emphasize the objective vision showed by the light emanating from an object; instead, his esthetic movement highlighted the underlying structure of the subjects in his paintings.
- His brushstrokes, compared to those of the other Impressionists, were not untidily scattered with color, but matched each other perfectly in a chromatic unity.
- The House of the Hanged Man (1873) was his most iconic painting during this period, which showed these forces at work.
- In 1874, Cézanne went to Paris and attended the first official show of the Impressionists. He continued to work hard despite gaining much severe criticism for the paintings he exhibited there and at the third show in 1877.
- He temporarily stayed in Estaque in 1876 and then returned to Aix two years later.
- Disappointed by the public’s reaction to his artworks, Cézanne isolated himself in Paris and Aix, and ended his long-term friendship with Zola, mainly because of obsessive distrust and jealousy, as well as his disappointment at his friend’s “popular” literary pieces, revealing his antisocial and single-minded disposition.
DEVELOPMENT OF HIS MATURE STYLE
- From the latter parts of 1870 to the early 1890s, Cézanne developed his mature style. This transition was depicted in The Sea at L’Estaque (1878-1879), a landscape painting with impressive and calm horizontals accompanied by even vertical brush strokes which create a prismatic effect.
- Other works of this period are The Mills of Gardanne (1885) and a number of monumental compositions in Mont Sainte-Victoire near Aix.
- Some of his well-known portraits include Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Armchair (1890-1894), Woman with Coffee-Pot (1890-1894), and The Card Players (1890-1892).
- In most of his paintings, the background and the subject are treated equally, with the latter often violently distorted with facial color to bring it in harmony with the total composition.
- Cézanne was always curious about his surroundings and his art contains a conscious search for intellectual solutions. Unlike other artists, he had his own idea and vision; painters who narrated events and represented nature seemed to him to lack a purpose that only his own work possessed.
- Cézanne was not a truly abstract painter, since he valued reality rather than design. In this way, he became the primary source of inspiration for the Cubist painters.
- From 1890 to 1905, Cézanne felt he had the capacity to create a new vision; he produced 10 variations of the Mont Sainte-Victoire, 3 versions of the Boy in a Red Waistcoat, a number of still-life pictures, and the Bathers series, in which he tried to bring back the classic tradition of the nude and its sculptural effect to the landscape.
- The death of his mother in 1897 led him to withdraw from his family and colleagues.
- In 1899, his works were exhibited at the yearly Salon des Indépendants. A year later, his pieces were displayed at the Universal Exposition in Paris.
- In October 1906, he died of diabetes and was buried in his hometown in the south of France.
- After his death, Picasso gave the most accurate assessment of Cézanne’s role for consecutive generations of artists, stating that he was “the father of us all”.
Paul Cézanne Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Paul Cézanne across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Paul Cézanne worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Paul Cézanne who was a French painter who laid the foundations for the shift from late 19th-century Impressionism to early 20th-century Cubism. His ideas were significant in the aesthetic progression of most modern art movements.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Paul Cézanne Facts
- Paul Cézanne Who?
- Fact Checkpoint
- Art Movements
- Editorial Calendar
- Other Artists
- Explaining Art
- Color Recipe
- Feeling Like Cézanne
- Letter to Cézanne
- Quote from Cézanne
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