Paul Cezanne was born in 1839 in the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence. He was the son of a wealthy banker. He became interested in art at an early age, which did not please his father. Cezanne was educated at the College Bourbon at Aix, where he befriended Emile Zola. Both Cezanne and Zola decided they would like to devote themselves to art. Zola settled down to a literary career in Paris, but Cezanne, after a short period as a law student, decided to go with his father”s wishes that he should carry on the management of the family bank.
He failed in this however, and was allowed to settle in Paris and attend the Atelier Suisse, where he was expected to prepare for the examinations of the Ecole des Beaux – Arts, which coincidentally, he never passed. He became known as one of the most extreme revolutionary painters. He became acquainted with the group of painters who encircled Manet and were later known as the Impressionists. During this period, he was most influenced by Delacroix and by the baroque painters that Delacroix studied, by Rubens and Tintoretto.
The “color” theories of Delacroix combined with the “law of simultaneous contrast” formulated by the chemist Michel Chevreul, by the end of the 1860″s were beginning to be taken up by the young artists that Cezanne was familiar with. Cezanne”s ambition was to create grandiose compositions of a purely imaginative description, expressive of his own moods, using either violently dramatic themes as he did in “Les Assassins” or “L”Autopsie”, or lyrical motifs, such as “Le Judgement de Paris,” or “Dejeuner sur l”herbe.
Cezanne also painted a series of portraits in which dramatic and psychological effects were undertoned. In all these early works, the color is reduced to a few simple notes in which black, white, earth reds, and yellows predominate. He showed at this stage nothing of the curiosity about natural effects of color which distinguished the Impressionist group. During the years 1872-1873, a great change came over Cezanne. He spent the summers of these years at Auvers-sur-Oise in the company of Camille Pissarro, one of the foremost Impressionistic painters.
Pissarro was older than Cezanne and had already discovered his personal style and perfected a methodical and precise technique adapted to it. For the first time Cezanne learned to look on nature with a curiosity and learned the process of recording the results that were obtained. And above all, the whole world of atmosphere color was revealed to him. Certain pictures painted by Cezanne in these years resemble very nearly Pissarro”s work, but they show Cezanne”s reater power over organizing form.
For these years, Cezanne may be In the last decade of the 19th century belong some of Cezanne”s most celebrated works. These include the portrait of Geffroy, which could be unequaled in modern art for the completeness of its realization and the complexity and assurance of harmonies, several pictures of men seated at a cafe table and playing cards, and a series of landscapes dominated by the mass of Mont Sainte-Victoire.
At the very end of his life, there seems to have been a reappearance of the romantic tendencies of his youth. His paintings became more richer, more intense, and vivid in color. In the 1880s and 1890s, his name had become almost unknown in the larger art circles of Paris. However, his fame began to gradually circulate among artists, and in 1904 an exhibition of his works in the Autumn salon revealed to the public this unknown genius. Most of his fame came posthumously, as Cezanne died at Aix in 1906.
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