“I wanted to make Impressionism something solid and enduring, like art in museums.”
The son of a wealthy banker, Paul Cézanne was born on January 19, 1839 in Aiz-en-Provence, France. Initially enrolling in the law school at the University of Aix in 1859, Cézanne developed an admiration of Delacroix, Courbet and Manet, artists who pained in a realist style. Thus, many of his early paintings reflect this influence through his use of a dark tones in order to convey a realisitic representation of contemporary life. In 1863, Cézanne’s work was included in the Salon des Refusés, which exhibited worked rejected by the Paris Salon. Rejection by the salon continued from 1864-9 (he would only be accepted once in 1882.)
Cézanne’s fortune changed when he met Camille Pissarro, who acted as a mentor to Cézanne, and introduced him to the Impressionist style of “en plein air” painting. Using this new technique, Cézanne abandoned darker tones and began experimenting with brighter colors in orde rto depict outdoor, rural scenes. He exhibited with the Impressionists from 1874-1877, but his work failed to be highly regarded and was rather unsuccessful commercially. THis caused him to distance himself from the Parisian art-scene and return home to Aix, where he spent the late 1870’s and 80’s. Believing form and color to be inseparable, Cézanne denounced Impressionism, deciding to emphasize structure and solidity in his work. By doing this, he became a leading figure in Post-Impressionism, creating works that would later influence the Fauves and Cubists.
In 1895, Cézanne met Ambroise Vollard, a Paris art dealer, and this alliance proved very profitable for both. Together they showed amd successfully promoted Cézanne’s work. Cézanne participated in the 1899 Salon des Independents in Paris for the first time, and five years later exhibited in the Salon d’Automne. Receiving a solo exhibition at the Galerie Cassirer, Berlin that same year, Cézanne passed away two years later on October 22, 1906 in his hometown of Aix. By this time, he had developed a strong reputation and earned his role as a forefather of 20th Century art.