24 Chapter 10 – Paul Cezanne


Bethany Miller

Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine, c. 1887, oil on canvas, 66.8 c 92.3 (The Courtauld Gallery, London)
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine, oil on canvas, c. 1887

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Paul Cezanne, born in the year of 1839 and passed away in 1906, is considered to be one of the greatest influences in the world of modern art. Cezanne was always interested in the arts from a young age, especially painting. When he was contemplating the option of getting an education in the arts, his father strongly objected, thinking that it was a waste of time and that he would not find the success his father hoped for him by being an artist.[1] His father, who was a successful banker, was also worried that there would be no monetary gain for his son in the arts.[2] Therefore, his father wanted him to pursue a more academically charged career path that would be more likely to bring him wealth and a promising future, and so he strongly suggested that Cezanne go to school to gain a law degree.[3] Cezanne went along with his fathers’ wishes but found he had no passion for law, and so, after two years, Cezanne finally convinced his father (with some help from his mother) to pursue an artistic career.[4] In that event, Cezanne set out to study painting in Paris and began his journey in becoming one of the most well known Impressionist artists.[5]

Paul Cezanne, The Artist’s Father, Reading “L’Événement”, oil on canvas, 1866

The beginning of Cezanne’s studies in painting while in Paris did not start out so well for the young artist. Burdened by the thoughts that he was not as artistically inclined as his peers and grappling with critics of his work, Cezanne became depressed.[6] He began to feel lost and inadequate when he saw the work of the artists around him and he felt inferior with his skills as he faced the all too common demon of comparison. After taking a break from the art world and spending some time working at his father’s bank, Cezanne decided to once again pursue his dream as an artist and returned to Paris to continue his studies with a newfound determination.[7]

Cezanne used his art as a form of expression and his early paintings were wrought with emotion that was tangible on the canvas.[8] Using techniques such as applying paint onto the canvas with a palette knife in a thick, crusted fashion and embracing dark and moody colour schemes, Cezanne broke away from the norm and became more emotional with his art as he began to experiment with never before seen tactics of painting.

Paul Cezanne, L’Estaque, oil on canvas, 1883-85

At the beginning of the Franco-German war in 1870, Cezanne left Paris for Provence, partly due to the fact that he was avoiding the chances of being drafted into the war.[9] During his time in Provence, he started to become inspired by the vast scenes of nature around him, and developed a love of the natural which influenced his future paintings. Cezanne, with his new inspirations, began to become proficient in painting landscapes. Unlike other landscape artists at the time, he aimed to not only replicate the nature he observed around him in a truthful fashion, but to also include elements of his own feelings and emotions and he successfully combined the two together into beautiful pieces of art. During this time of his nature inspired works, he moved from a more dark and dramatic approach of painting, to focusing more on the qualities of light and atmosphere.

Paul Cezanne, The Basket of Apples, oil on canvas, 1890-94

Like most artists, Cezanne’s work was always evolving and maturing. As seen in his still life painting, Cezanne began to be more technical in his approach; solving problems of perspective, dimension, and tonal variations.[10] As his work as an artist continued to thrive, his art became increasingly dynamic, with rich colours and skillful compositions.[11]

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit, watercolour on paper, 1906

As an artist who was constantly seeking ways to break free from the “rules” of painting, Cezanne was always working to discover new ways to deal with form, colour, and space and how he could stimulate the viewer. One such way he accomplished this was by approaching perspective in a previously unseen method. Viewing some of Cezanne’s paintings, the viewer is left wondering from what vantage point the artist was settled in when he created the work, as he would shift the traditional perspective to allow for more information to be seen, this is especially evidenced in his still life paintings.

All together, throughout Cezanne’s life and work as an artist, he inspired future generations of painters in countless ways. First of all, Cezanne never gave up on his aspirations and dreams to become a successful artist and to share his work with the world around him. He was determined to make art his life’s focus and he continues to be an inspiration for others to break free from societal norms and the pressures that we have placed on us by other people or by ourselves. Cezanne is a major key influencer in modern art in the way he created new techniques of paint application, colour schemes, perspective, creating a new sense of space, and combining your imagination with the real world. In his career, that lasted four decades, Cezanne created more than nine hundred oil paintings and four hundred watercolour paintings. His work influenced modern art in a way that he never imagined, he went from almost giving up on his dream, to becoming one of the most influential artists of today.[12]

Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire and Château Noir, oil on canvas, 1904-05


Boztunali, Zehra Seda. “Analysis of Nature in Paul Cezanne’s Art.” Sanat Eğitimi Dergisi (2017): 5 (2). doi:10.7816/sed-05-02-02. 2017.

Huyghe, René. 2020. “Paul Cezanne.” Encyclopedia Britannica, inc, September 11, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Paul-Cezanne.

Lord, Douglas. “Paul Cezanne.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 69 (400): 32. (1936): https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.ardc.talonline.ca/login.aspx direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.866551&site=eds-live.

Richman-Abdou, Kelly. “Father Of Modern Art”. My Modern Met, September 11, 2020, https://mymodernmet.com/paul-cezanne-paintings/

Trachtman, Paul. “Cezanne”. Smithsonian Magazine, January, 2006, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/cezanne-107584544/

Voorhies, James. “Paul Cézanne.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (1839–1906). http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/pcez/hd_pcez.htm.

“Paul Cezanne and his Paintings”. Paul Cezanne: Paintings, Biography, and Quotes. 2010, https://www.paulcezanne.org/

  1. Paul Cezanne, “Paul Cezanne and his Paintings”. Accessed September 16, 2020. https://www.paulcezanne.org/
  2. Paul Cezanne, Paul Cezanne and his Paintings.
  3. Paul Cezanne, Paul Cezanne and his Paintings.
  4. Trachtman, Paul. “Cezanne”. Smithsonian Magazine, January, 2006, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/cezanne-107584544/
  5. Trachtman, Paul, Cezanne.
  6. Trachtman, Paul, Cezanne.
  7. Richman-Abdou, Kelly. “Father Of Modern Art”. My Modern Met, Accessed September 11, 2020, https://mymodernmet.com/paul-cezanne-paintings/
  8. Trachtman, Paul, Cezanne
  9. Trachtman, Paul, Cezanne
  10. Richman-Abdou, Kelly. “Father Of Modern Art”. Accessed September 11, 2020.
  11. Richman-Abdou, Kelly. “Father Of Modern Art”. Accessed September 11, 2020.
  12. Huyghe, René. 2020. “Paul Cezanne.” Encyclopedia Britannica, inc, Accessed September 11, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Paul-Cezanne.


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Chapter 10 - Paul Cezanne Copyright © 2022 by Bethany Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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