Sunday, January 19, 2014

Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne
Today is Paul Cezanne's birthday, born on January 19, 1839 in Aix en Provence.  His father, Louis Auguste was the co-founder of a  local bank whose prosperity assured the well-being and the financial independence of the artist throughout his life.

Paul Cezanne grew up in the comfortable bourgeois life of Aix en Provence. He attended College Bourbon where he met his friend and future writer Emile Zola. Complying to his father's wishes he attended Law school at the University of Aix en Provence. However, Cezanne wanting  to pursue his artistic inclinations left Aix en Provence for Paris 1861 at the objections of his father.   After five months in Paris, he was gripped with self-doubt and  returned to Aix to work in his father's banking house.  This was short lived, as Cezanne returned to Paris in 1862  to  paint.

During the 1860's Cezanne painted in a dark tonal palette reminiscent of painters he admired such as Courbet, Delacroix and Manet.    Then in 1872,  he moved to Pontoise, outside of Paris  to be near  his friend Camille Pissaro who encouraged him to paint outdoor to capture the natural light and impressions of nature following a new technique dubbed Impressionism.  Cezanne's canvases started to gain lighter and more brilliant tones.  Exhibiting in the Salon des Refuses in 1874 and 1877, he however, failed to gain critical and commercial success.

Mont Ste. Victoire-
Barnes Collection
In the early 1880's Cezanne returned to live in Provence with his long-time mistress, Marie Hortense Fiquet and their young son, Paul. His father, Paul Auguste,  had a studio built for him at the family home -Jas de Bouffan.  Cezanne spent many hours outdoor painting the landscape around Aix en Provence especially of the Sainte Victoire mountain.


In 1886,  at age 47 Cezanne married Hortense; his father died the same year living him with a substantial inheritance.  Subsequent years saw the painter secluding  himself, painting still lifes, landscapes, portraits of locals and bathers.  His quirky and troubled behavior led to a strained relationship between the couple who spent much time apart- Hortense living in Paris with Paul Jr. and Paul Cezanne living in Aix en Provence at Jas de Bouffan with his mother and sister .

Cezanne gained more and more status in the late 1890's;  his painting were successfully exhibited in the Salon des Independents in Paris in 1899, 1901, 1902 and in 1904 he was given an entire room at the Salon d'Automne.

Atelier Cezanne
 In 1901 the painter built a studio along the Chemin des Lauves where he retreated to paint. It is still standing today and looks as the painter left it when he suddenly died on October 22, 1906  after  being caught in a rain storm on a work outing.

His legacy today is considered pivotal in the development of modern art  being the  bridge between Impressionism and the development of cubism.  He was admired by Picasso and  Matisse  who are believed to have remarked that  Cézanne "is the father of us all."

Jas de Bouffan-
National Gallery- Prague
When visiting  Aix en Provence follow in the footsteps of Paul Cezanne.  A  well-marked pedestrian walk highlights the painter’s life- his favorite cafe "Les Deux Garcons", the location of his father's bank,  the house where he was born.  Just north of the old quarter you can visit  the  Atelier les Lauves, and a little outside of Aix you will find the family home at Jas de bouffan.  Others sites painted by Cezanne  that merit a visit is the  Mont St. Victoire, Bibemus quarries , l'Estarque and Route du Tholonet and  Chateau Noir. 

We invite you to join our small group  tour to Provence to visit Aix en Provence and Atelier Cezanne.  Click here for more details. Provence Escapde

Tag: Paul Cezanne, Aix en Provence, Mount Sainte Victoire, Les Lauves studio

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