Paul Cezanne: Biography & Artwork

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

An artist whose work bridged Impressionism and Cubism, Paul Cézanne's work helped introduce the world to modern art. Learn more about the artist who helped inspire Picasso.

The Life of Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne was born in southern France in 1839. Unlike many other artists of the period, Cézanne came from a family of considerable wealth - as a result, he was permitted to pursue art from a relatively young age, only to be interrupted by his father's wish that he study law. Ultimately, he would abandon the study of law only months short of finishing a degree in order to move to Paris and pursue art full time, reuniting with a number of his close friends from art school.

While this decision to abandon law caused some friction between Cézanne and his father, it was not enough to prevent the painter from receiving a sizable inheritance from his father, as well as his moral support of Cézanne's painting. Such support was important, since Cézanne valued being among the avant-garde of French painting, which meant that his work was often at risk for heavy criticism. This group included the Impressionists, a cadre whose work Cézanne admired.

After moving back to southern France from his time in Paris, Cézanne continued to paint, finding his style shift from focusing on traditional Impressionist motifs of landscapes and solitary individuals, instead focusing more on the shapes and geometries in his pieces. This work would eventually manifest in his portrayals of still art that would comprise the body of his work later in life.

Ultimately, Cézanne's work would lead to his death. Caught by a cold rain while painting, he collapsed on the side of the road, only to be taken home. Despite attempting to work the next day, he collapsed again, dying of pneumonia only days later.

Cézanne's Artwork

From the Impressionists, Cézanne soon gained an appreciation for landscapes, often placing an emphasis on how colors would meld together at the edges, eschewing reliance on firm lines. This is especially true of his landscapes, such as 'Mont Sainte-Victorie' and 'Jas de Bouffan.' These works both show the landscape in question just as the artist had seen them, which was something very important to Impressionists.

Mont Sainte Victorie
Mont Sainte Victorie

Jas de Bouffan
Jas de Bouffan

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