Paul Cezanne Essay, Research Paper
The Life of Paul Cezanne
by Inna Sokolyanskaya
Paul Cezanne was born on January 19, 1839, in the Aix-en-Province,
located in the Southern part of France. Due to his father s job as a local
banker, and before this a local import and exporter in the area, Cezanne s
family was considered upper middle class. Their rich lifestyle made them
unpopular with the local community, who thought of them as sly and selfish.
For a short while, Cezanne was convinced by his father to pursue a career in
law. However, by 1959, he had decided against pursuing a career in either
of his fathers interests. Instead, his life would be art.
As a youth, Paul Cezanne spent much of his childhood growing up in
the quiet, isolated town of Aix. In this small rural town, he enjoyed
spending his afternoons swimming and playing with his friends. Cezanne
had one extremely devoted friend, Emile Zola, whom he was to know
throughout life. As teenagers and later on adults, these two boys
experienced a friendship that became intimate and moving, as well as rival
and bitter. For the early parts of their careers, the two often had to
encourage one another because there were many times when they
experienced moments of depression and self-doubt.
Characteristics typical of C zanne’s early works were colors in dark
shades and the use of heavy, fluid paints. These touches gave his works
the looks of Romantic paintings, which were characterized by a highly
imaginative and subjective approach. Gradually, Cezanne changed his
style. He decided to portray the things in everyday life as they really were.
In other words, he began to paint the objects he observed without being
interested in thematic perfection.
A major event in Cezanne s life that influenced his most well known
works was his encounter with Camille Pissarro, an older painter who
produced paintings of many quiet rural landscapes and river scenes. This
man was truly Cezanne s motivation. As one of Cezanne s closest friends,
Pissarro provided the support and moral encouragement that he often
needed to continue creating beautiful art. In addition, Pissarro introduced
him to the new impressionist technique for depicting outdoor light.
Other painters, such as Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir, soon
began to paint with Cezanne and Pissarro. Together they developed a
painting style that was called en plein air. This technique involved painting
outdoors, swiftly and on a reduced scale, using only small touches of pure
color. Usually, all of this would be done without the help of preparatory
sketches or linear outlines. Under Pissarro’s guardianship, C zanne shifted
from dark tones to bright hues and began to focus on scenes of farmland and
rural villages from the years 1872-1873.
Along with the other impressionists, Cezanne exhibited his work in
1874 and 1877. Unfortunately, the impressionists did not have much
success, and C zanne’s work was harshly criticized. Devastated and
depressed from the results, Cezanne decided to get away from Parisian life.
In the late 1870 s and 1880 s, he became isolated artist, not painting in the
heart of Paris, but in the grasslands of Southern France.
To make matters worse, Cezanne s father passed away in 1886.
Although Cezanne inherited a grand fortune, another incident brought a new
cloud into his life later that year His life long friend Zola published an
article that deeply offended Cezanne by indirectly discussing his failures. As
a result, Cezanne broke off relations with his oldest supporter. All of these
sad events, combined with Cezanne s isolation from the world and
determination to continue to paint, influenced the remarkable development
he maintained during the 1880s and ’90s.
During this period, the beauty of nature continued to be the object of
Cezanne s paintings. He enjoyed the splendor of the Mont Sainte-Victoire,
which he painted many times from his studio looking across the intervening
valley. In addition to this, he concentrated on still lifes of studio objects
built around such recurring items as apples, statues, and tablecloths. He
painted studies of bathers, usually of males, while using a combination of
memory, earlier studies, and sources in the art of the past to complete his
The strokes of paint used to create these masterpieces were of
brilliant impressionist colors. Gradually, Cezanne reduced his application
of the paint to the point where it was possible for him to depict volumetric
forms with continuous strokes of pure color. At this time, critics began to
notice his work, arguing that he had discovered a means of portraying both
nature’s light and nature’s form by applying color only once. To Cezanne,
the key to producing realistic, expressive impressionistic art lay in the use of
Cezanne never felt truly comfortable about his life or his art. He often
stated that “life is fearful”, and that his life had been full of the threat of this
reality. He believed that he had responded weakly, and that his
achievements both financially and socially were the work of others on his
behalf. Cezanne was also upset about his failure of rendering the human
figure, and destroyed many of his works.
In the later years of his life, Cezanne tried to keep himself busy by
painting and trying to avoid the busyness of Paris. He enjoyed going for long
walks in the countryside, and entertaining guests over dinner. However, these
joyous times did not last. During 1906, Aix was hit with severe heat waves,
and Cezanne found it extremely difficult to work under such conditions. In
October of that year, Cezanne was caught in the rain for over two hours.
When he arrived home he collapsed from fatigue. A few days later on
October 22, 1906, Paul Cezanne died.
All in all, Paul Cezanne was an artist who influenced the early part of
the modern art era. His work and his life have become a symbol of inspiration
for the average painter. Cezanne is considered to be one of this centuries
greatest art masters. He influenced some of the 20th centuries-greatest artists,
including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. It is no wonder that he has been
given the name father of modern art .