b. 1839, Aix-en-Provence, France
d. 1906, Aix-en-Provence, France
Paul Cézanne was a French Post-Impressionist painter and one of the most influential figures in the history of modern art. Born in 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, growing up he was close friends with the esteemed French writer Émile Zola. Cézanne moved to Paris in 1861, where he began his practice of copying the works of Titian and Peter Paul Rubens in the Louvre. While attending drawing classes at the Académie Suisse in Paris, Cézanne was initially influenced by his Impressionist contemporaries, among them Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, and Auguste Renoir. Working alongside Pissarro in the 1870s, he began increasingly to draw and paint outdoors. With Pissarro’s guidance, Cézanne adopted a brighter, prismatic palette, which he would employ throughout the remainder of his career. He eventually distanced himself from the Impressionists, however, as he sought to unite a direct observational approach with the sense of structure and solidity of classical composition.
While most often remembered as a painter, Cézanne was also an accomplished draughtsman. Drawing was a foundational aspect of his artistic practice, and he drew almost daily, making over 2,000 works on paper over the course of his career. Executed primarily in pencil and in watercolor on the pages of sketchbooks and on loose sheets, these works demonstrate Cézanne’s technical range. During the latter part of his career, Cézanne spent much of his time in his hometown. Here, he painted views of Mont Saint-Victoire, still lifes, and Provençal locals. He was widely appreciated in his lifetime, despite facing mainstream rejection from major institutions and salons. The artist died in 1906 in Aix-en-Provence, France. Today, Cézanne's works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the National Gallery in London, among others.