Paul Cezanne Still Life Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about Paul Cezanne and his still life paintings with this lesson plan. They will study a text lesson, take a follow-up quiz that is related, and participate in fun hands-on activities.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Describe three of Cezanne's famous still life paintings.
  • Explain who Paul Cezanne was and for what he is noted.
  • Recap the style of Cezanne and who he influenced.


1 - 1.5 Hours


  • Bowl of fruit, preferably containing at least an apple, banana, grapes, orange, and a pear
  • Copies of the text lesson Paul Cezanne's Still Life Paintings along with the related lesson quiz
  • Flashlights or small lamps (optional)
  • Internet access
  • Items such as dishware, linens, milk-jug, vase of flowers, and a wine bottle
  • Small table

Key Vocabulary

  • Analytical
  • Brushstrokes
  • Geometric shapes
  • Human perception
  • Impressionism
  • Post-Impressionism

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


  • Inform your students they are going to be learning about the still life paintings of Paul Cezanne.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with Paul Cezanne or his still life creations.
  • Review the key vocabulary terms.
  • Pass out copies of the text lesson Paul Cezanne's Still Life Paintings.
  • Read the introduction and the first section 'Paul Cezanne's Boring Paintings.'
    • In which decades did Paul Cezanne live?
    • How did the French look at most still life paintings during his life?
  • Next read the section 'Cezanne's Style.'
    • Cezanne is considered the great master of which movement?
    • What movement did Post-Impressionism reject?
    • What was the theory of Impressionism?
    • What was Cezanne's style instead?
    • What were several traits of his style?
    • What three later art movements were inspired by Cezanne?
  • Now read the section 'Notable Paintings.'
    • Can you name three of his famous still life works?
    • What was so noticeable about each of these paintings?
  • Lastly, read the section 'Lesson Summary,' review the lesson in its entirety, and answer any questions raised by the students.
  • Have your students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate their grasp of the material.

Activity One

Part I

  1. Let your students know they are going to be viewing ten more of Cezanne's amazing still life portraits.
  2. Divide your students into pairs.
  3. Instruct them to look for the following ten paintings on the Internet. While they are looking, ask them the following questions listed below the name of the painting:
    • Aparador
      • What is an aparador? (a sideboard, which is a furniture item that stores linens and dishware)
    • Bowl and Milk-Jug
      • What is a term for paintings like this with lots of shadows in the background? (low key)
    • Compotier, Glass and Apples
      • In what museum can you view this piece? (it is in a private collection)
    • Fleurs et Frutis (Orangerie)
      • What are fleurs? (flowers)
    • Le Vase Paille
      • What is paille? (straw)
    • Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier
      • For what is this painting known? (it earned the most money of any still life at auction)
    • Still Life with Skull
      • Why did Cezanne place skulls in some of his still life paintings? (one reason was he would contemplate on mortality, particularly his own)
    • The Buffett
      • Was this an Impressionistic or Post-Impressionistic painting? (an earlier Impressionistic painting from 1877)
    • The Peppermint Bottle
      • What year was this painted? (1895)
    • Trois Poires
      • Where can this painting be seen? (National Gallery of Art)

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