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Artists Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne Photo

Paul Cézanne

French Draftsman and Painter

Movement: Post-Impressionism

Born: January 19, 1839 - Aix-en-Provence, France

Died: October 22, 1906 - Aix-en-Provence, France

Paul Cézanne Timeline


"We must not paint what we think we see, but what we see .. sometimes it may go against the grain, but this is what our craft demands."
Paul Cézanne
"You must think. The eye is not enough; it needs to think as well."
Paul Cézanne
"I try to render perspective through color alone .. One must see one's model correctly and experience it in the right way, and furthermore, express oneself with distinction and strength."
Paul Cézanne
"There must not be a single loose strand, a single gap through which the tension, the light, the truth can escape."
Paul Cézanne
"A painter is revealing something which no one has ever seen before and translates it into the absolute concepts of painting. That is, into something other than reality."
Paul Cézanne
"I owe you the truth in painting and I will tell it to you"
Paul Cézanne
"Art is a harmony parallel with nature."
Paul Cézanne
"In Cézanne's work we should see not only a new pictorial construction but also—too often forgotten—a new moral suggestion of space."
George Braque
"[Cézanne is] the example of the dedicated life."
Paul Valery
"At the threshold of our century stands the art of Cézanne, which imposes on us the conviction that in rendering the simplest objects, bare of ideal meanings, a series of colored patches can be a summit of perfection showing the concentrated qualities and powers of a great mind.
Whoever in dismay before the strangeness of certain contemporary works denies to the original painting of our time a sufficient significance and longs for an art with noble and easily-read figures and gestures, should return to Cézanne and ask what in the appeal of his 'weighty art' depends on a represented human drama."
Historian Meyer Schapiro

"I owe you the truth in painting and I will tell it to you"

Paul Cézanne Signature


Paul Cézanne was the preeminent French artist of the Post-Impressionist era, widely appreciated toward the end of his life for insisting that painting stay in touch with its material, virtually sculptural origins. Also known as the "Master of Aix" after his ancestral home in the South of France, Cézanne is credited with paving the way for the emergence of twentieth-century modernism, both visually and conceptually. In retrospect, his work constitutes the most powerful and essential link between the ephemeral aspects of Impressionism and the more materialist, artistic movements of Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and even complete abstraction.

Key Ideas

Unsatisfied with the Impressionist dictum that painting is primarily a reflection of visual perception, Cézanne sought to make of his artistic practice a new kind of analytical discipline. In his hands, the canvas itself takes on the role of a screen where an artist's visual sensations are registered as he gazes intensely, and often repeatedly, at a given subject.
Cézanne applied his pigments to the canvas in a series of discrete, methodical brushstrokes as though he were "constructing" a picture rather than "painting" it. Thus, his work remains true to an underlying architectural ideal: every portion of the canvas should contribute to its overall structural integrity.
In Cézanne's mature pictures, even a simple apple might display a distinctly sculptural dimension. It is as if each item of still life, landscape, or portrait had been examined not from one but several angles, its material properties then recombined by the artist as no mere copy, but as what Cézanne called "a harmony parallel to nature." It was this aspect of Cézanne's analytical, time-based practice that led the future Cubists to regard him as their true mentor.


Paul Cézanne Photo


Paul Cézanne was born in 1839 in the town of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. His father was a wealthy lawyer and banker who strongly encouraged Paul to follow in his footsteps. Cézanne's eventual rejection of his authoritative father's aspirations led to a long, problematic relationship between the two, although, notably, the artist remained financially dependent on his family until his father's death in 1886.

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Paul Cézanne Biography Continues

Important Art by Paul Cézanne

The below artworks are the most important by Paul Cézanne - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Louis-Auguste Cézanne, the Artist's father, Reading “L'Evenement” (1866)

Louis-Auguste Cézanne, the Artist's father, Reading “L'Evenement” (1866)

Artwork description & Analysis: This portrait is one of the most renowned early works by Cézanne. The rigid composition is dominated by somber hues applied in a thick impasto. The expressive premise for this piece is suggested by the artist's inclusion of his own still life in the background, as though to solicit recognition of his talent by his famously disapproving parent. As if to force the issue, Louis-August is portrayed reading a liberal newspaper, a highly unlikely event, as he was widely known for his conservative outlook.

Oil on canvas - The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

A Modern Olympia (1869-1870)

A Modern Olympia (1869-1870)

Artwork description & Analysis: This composition is Cézanne's adaptation of the theme of the demi-mondaine, or high-class prostitute suggested in Édouard Manet's scandalous Olympia of 1863. Unlike Manet's treatment, however, Cézanne portrays the prostitute as an awkwardly naked and recoiling figure, setting off the figures of her suitor (completely invisible in Manet's rendering of the subject) and an African chambermaid as transgressing "outsiders." The figures are depicted in both an expressive and abbreviated, indeed almost ungainly manner, with facial features only vaguely outlined, like masks, while their fleshy, corpulent bodies are visually articulated by dynamic, curving contours. The interior of the room is defined by a series of sweeping diagonals and bold colors depicting draperies, fruit, and an implied floral arrangement (Manet's version of the subject sported a resplendent bouquet in the center of the canvas). The suitor may be equated with Cézanne himself, possibly referring to his well-known anxiety with the opposite sex, which he struggled with throughout his life.

Oil on canvas - Private Collection

The Bay of Marseille, Seen from L'Estaque (1885)

The Bay of Marseille, Seen from L'Estaque (1885)

Artwork description & Analysis: In this view of L'Estaque, the artist's palette bursts with a vibrant bouquet of colors previously unseen in his work. The rigid architectonic forms of the houses define the foreground, while the rest of the picture is realized just as "solidly" through the bold blues of the sea and the sky. The complimentary colors are skillfully employed by the artist to create an illusion of pictorial depth. The entire composition reminds us the artist's stated desire to "make of Impressionism something solid and enduring, like the art in museums." Cézanne painted numerous views of L'Estaque, which was one of his favorite destinations in the south of France.

Oil on canvas - The Art Institute of Chicago

More Paul Cézanne Artwork and Analysis:

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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Paul Cézanne
Interactive chart with Paul Cézanne's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart


Eugène DelacroixEugène Delacroix
Theodore GericaultTheodore Gericault
Gustave CourbetGustave Courbet
Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet

Personal Contacts

Camille PissarroCamille Pissarro
Ambroise VollardAmbroise Vollard
Victor ChocquetVictor Chocquet
Julien 'Pere' TanguyJulien 'Pere' Tanguy
Émile ZolaÉmile Zola



Influences on Artist
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Years Worked: 1861 - 1906
Influenced by Artist


Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Georges BraqueGeorges Braque
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Arshile GorkyArshile Gorky

Personal Contacts

Camille PissarroCamille Pissarro
Ambroise VollardAmbroise Vollard
Gertrude SteinGertrude Stein
Alfred StieglitzAlfred Stieglitz


Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

Useful Resources on Paul Cézanne

Special Features







artist features

Defining Modern Art

Take a look at the big picture of modern art, and Cézanne's role in it.

The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.


Cézanne Recomended resource

By Meyer Schapiro

Cézanne : A Biography

By John Rewald

Cézanne Recomended resource

By Ambroise Vollard

More Interesting Books about Paul Cézanne
The Official Website of Atelier Cézanne Museum

The artist's house in Aix-en-Provence

Paul Cézanne Recomended resource

Metropolitan Museum's of Art Timeline of Art History

Paul Cézanne: The Master of Us All

By Lacayo, Richard
February 26, 2009

Maverick, You Cast a Giant Shadow

By Rosenberg, Karen
The New York Times
March 5, 2009

A Post-Impressionist and His American Imitators Recomended resource

By Ken Johnson
New York Times
October 8, 2009

Discussion of Route Tournante painting by Paul Cézanne

Author Colm Tóibín discusses artist and painting

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Ivan Savvine

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Ivan Savvine
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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