Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne
© Photo RMN - RenŽ-Gabriel OjŽda © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / René-Gabriel Ojéda
Corps de texte

While he was studying law in Aix-en-Provence, where he was born, Paul Cézanne enrolled at the city’s Municipal School of Drawing. In 1862, he turned his back on a legal career and joined his friend Émile Zola in Paris. He copied old paintings at the Louvre Museum and contemporary paintings at the Luxembourg Museum, where he discovered Eugène Delacroix’s artworks. In 1872, he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, where he painted alongside Camille Pissarro, and he took part in the impressionist group’s founding exhibition in Paris in 1874.
Cézanne divided his life between Paris and Provence. He abandoned impressionism but continued to work in the open air, employing shadowy colors. Between 1890 and 1895, his painting underwent a radical change, both in style and technique, emphasizing objects’ outlines while only sketching in their reliefs.
In 1895, his first exhibition, held at the art dealer Ambroise Vollard’s gallery, introduced him to the public at large. The young painters of the day revered him as the precursor of modern painting, due to his sense of volume and the importance he assigned to geometric structure: Picasso is said to have called him “the father of us all”. His body of work mainly consists of still lifes and Provence landscapes but also includes portraits and depictions of women bathing.
In the 1920s, Paul Guillaume acquired a number of Cézanne’s major works, including Madame Cézanne au jardin (Madame Cézanne in the Garden – 1885-1895) Portrait de Madame Cézanne (Portrait of Madame Cézanne – 1885-1895) and Portrait du fils de l’artiste (Portrait of the Artist’s Son – circa 1880). His widow, Domenica Walter-Guillaume, purchased several more of Cézanne’s paintings that are now conserved at the Musée de l’Orangerie, including such landscapes as Le Rocher rouge (The Red Rock – circa 1895), Le Paysage au toit rouge (Landscape with Red Roof) and Le Pin à l’Estaque (The Pine Tree at Estaque – 1875-1876). By doing so, she left her mark on the collection without ever straying from the ambitious direction set by Paul Guillaume, and it is very much due to her that the Orangerie now houses some of the Master of Aix’s most important works.

View Paul Cézanne's works