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Paul Cézanne, frequently described as the "father of modern art," was born in the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence, January 19, 1839, the son of Louise Auguste Auguste, a hat manufacturer, who became the prosperous cofounder of a banking firm and Anne-Elisabeth-Honorine Auburt. He had two sisters, Marie and Rose. He was born into a family of Italian origin in Cesana Forinese in West Piedmont. The name Cézanne has been mentioned in the records of Aix-en-Provence Town Hall since 1700. Paul Cézanne’s grandparents had left Aix to settle in Saint-Zacharie (Var), where Cézanne’s father, Louis-Auguste, was born on 28 June 1798.

From the age of 10 to the age of 22, Cezanne studied drawing and art under the tutorage of monks. He received a classical education at the College Bourbon in Aix. In 1858, under the direction of his father-a successful banker determined to have his son enter the same profession-Cezanne entered the law school of the University of Aix-en-Provence. In 1859 Jas de Bouffan, an impressive 18th-century manor became the family home and Cezanne spent a year studying law. He was a successful scholar passing all his first examinations.

In 1861 he abandoned the study of law, and his father reluctantly gave him permission (and a modest allowance) to train as an artist in Paris. After the death of his father in 1886, Cézanne inherited the family estate (the Jas de Bouffan, which features in many of his paintings), and lived mainly in Aix (he often visited Paris. That same year, he failed the entrance exam for the Beaux Arts and returned to Aix en Provence firmly decided to become a full-time painter. Cézanne attempted twice to enter the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but was turned down by the jury.

In 1859 Jas de Bouffan, an impressive 18th-century manor became the family home and Cezanne spent a year studying law. The Salon des Refusés was an art exhibition that took place in Paris in 1863, showing works that had been rejected by the official Paris Salon. The Salon rejected Cézanne's submissions every year from 1864 to 1869. Cézanne continued to submit works to the Salon until 1882. In 1863 artists protested so strongly that so many paintings were rejected (only 2,217 paintings out of the more than 5,000 submitted were accepted, that in 1863 Napoleon III created by decree the Salon des Refuses at which paintings rejected for display at the Salon of the Academie des Beaux-Arts were to be displayed. The artists of the refused works were considered revolutionary. They included the young Impressionists.


In Paris Cézanne frequented the Louvre, met Pissarro and Guillaumin and, later on, Monet, Sisley, Bazille and Renoir. With the declaration of war, the band of impressionist painters were forced with a number of serious decisions.

After the start of the Franco-Prussian War in July, 1870, Cezanne took refuge on the coast at L'Estaque, near Marseilles, to continue his work, in was predominantly landscapes. Marie Hortense's brother had a house within view of Mont Sainte-Victoire at Estaque. He was declared a draft-dodger in January, 1871, but the war ended in February and the couple moved back to Paris, in the summer of 1871. Following the birth of their son Paul in January, 1872, in Paris, they moved to Auvers in Val-d'Oise near Paris. His friend Pissarro and his family were forced to leave in July of 1870 abandoning his studio to escaped to London to avoid the Franco-Prussian war.

The year of 1870 saw Renoir called up for duty in and mobilised into the cavalry regiment, first at Bordeaux then at Tarbes, was assigned to the training of horses in the Pyrenees. Frederic Bazille, had been born into a Protestant family of the upper middle class of Montpellier in the south of France. His father was a rich landowner and wine grower as well as a notable of the city of Montpellier.

Frédéric Bazille joined a Zouave regiment in August 1870, a month after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. The Zouaves, in their day they were better known than the French Foreign Legion. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 was a dark page in French history, ended with the destruction of the Second Empire. Zouave battalions were bloodied in the battles of Worth, Mars La Tour, Gravelotte, and in the siege of Paris.

On November 28 of that year Bazille was with his unit at the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande when, his officer having been injured, he took command and led an assault on the German position. He was hit twice in the failed attack and died on the battlefield at the age of twenty nine. His father travelled to the battlefield a few days later to take his body back for burial at Montpellier over a week later. Critics denounced the works he exhibited at the Salon des Refusés (1863), but he persevered. In 1872 Cézanne moved to Pontoise, where he spent 2 years working very closely with Pissarro. During this period Cézanne became convinced that one must paint directly from nature. Leaving Hortense in the Marseille region, Cézanne moved between Paris and Provence, exhibiting in the first (1874) and third Impressionist shows (1877).

After 1877 Cézanne gradually withdrew from his impressionist colleagues and worked in increasing isolation at his home in southern France. Another painting of his wife is closely related to three smaller paintings in which she also wears a shawl-collared red dress: one shows her posed in a similar fashion, holding a flower in her hand (Museu de Arte de São Paulo) In 1878, Paul Cezanne's father, Louis-Auguste had a studio built for him at his home, Jas de Bouffan, in the early 1880s. This was on the upper floor and an enlarged window was provided, allowing in the northern light but interrupting the line of the eaves.


Cezanne and Marie-Hortense Fiquet, left Paris for L'Estaque near Marseilles, where he changed themes to predominantly landscapes. For many years still-lifes and landscapes were Cezanne's preoccupation. He painted several views of "L'Estaque, a small coastal village on the Mediterranean to the west of Marseilles, where his mother owned a house. In 1886 he married Hortense Fiquet, a bookbinder's assistant. Cézanne painted over forty portraits of his companion, as well as several portraits of their son Paul.

Cezanne painted three portraits of his wife in the same damask-covered yellow chair, and they appear to have been done within the same time period. The largest, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, includes elaborate drapery, the edge of a mantelpiece, and a fire tong. The Art Institute's portrait and a third version, in a private New York collection, are smaller. His wife is posed without hat or jewelry, and the chair is a common type found in French middle-class houses from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. 'Apples and Oranges' is one of his most famous still-life compositions.

He travelled in Switzerland, with Hortense and his son, perhaps hoping to restore their relationship. Cézanne, however, returned to Provence to live; Hortense and Paul junior, to Paris. Financial need prompted Hortense's return to Provence but in separate living quarters. Cézanne moved in with his mother and sister. In 1891 he turned to Catholicism.

Before 1895 Cézanne exhibited twice with the Impressionists (at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877). For many years Cezanne was known only to his old impressionist colleagues and to a few younger radical postimpressionist artists, including the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the French painter Paul Gauguin. In 1880's Cézanne executed a large number of still lifes. He painted with Renoir there in 1882 and visited Renoir and Monet in 1883.


In his studio, Cezanne painted atop a 15 foot wooden ladder that he used to climb. After painting on the ladder for a while, he’d take the canvas and lay it on the floor. Cézanne often worked on his canvases for several months.

Many of Cezanne's early works were painted in dark tones applied with heavy, fluid pigment. Between 1872-1873, Cezanne shifted from dark tones to bright hues and began to concentrate on scenes of farmland and rural villages. Cézanne to adopt the broken brushwork and light palette of the impressionists. His brush strokes were regular oblongs, arranged in parallel to form a uniform pattern across his paintings. He painted at times with a palette knife applying paint in thick layers of impasto, until the strokes resembled clay. In 1866–67, inspired by the example of Courbet, Cézanne painted a series of paintings with a palette knife. P>


In 1903, the first Salon d'Automne (Fall Salon) was organized as a reaction to the conservative policies of the official Paris Salon on Oct. 31, 1903, at the Petit-Palais. The exhibition almost immediately became the showpiece of developments and innovations in 20th century painting and sculpture. During the Salon's early years, established artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir threw their support behind the new exhibition and Paul Cézanne's paintings were been shown there, aiding in the establishsing of these impressionist artist reputations. In 1907 the "Salon d'Automne" posthumously dedicates a retrospective to Cézanne where 56 of his paintings are exhibited.


One of the most stirring accounts of Cézanne's old age was offered by the painter Émile Bernard in his memoirs. Bernard spent time with Cézanne in Aix when the artist was already considered a hopeless eccentric, stoned by boys in the streets. One evening at dinner, Bernard mentioned Frenhofer, the hero of Balzac's story, "The Unknown Masterpiece." Cézanne "got up from the table, planted himself before me, and, striking his chest with his index finger, he designated himself—without a word—but through this repeated gesture, as the very person in the story. He was so moved that tears filled his eyes."

During his later years Cézanne repeatedly painted the towering mountain of Sainte-Victoire, which rises just east of his home in Aix-en-Provence, France. In 1901 he bought some land along the Chemin des Lauves ("Lauves Road"), an isolated road on some high ground at Aix, and commissioned a studio to be built there (the 'atelier', now open to the public). He moved there in 1903.

In October 1906, Cézanne was outside painting his beloved Saint Victoire mountains when was caught in a sudden rain storm while working out in the field. The storm itself did not deter his painting goal for the day. After working for two hours under the downpour did he decide to go home. Cezanne collapsed on the way. He was taken home to his flat in the Rue Boulegonby a passing driver. His old housekeeper rubbed his arms and legs to restore the circulation and he regained consciousness. At this time. Cezanne had been suffering from diabetes for a long time.

The following day, intending to continue working, he fainted and was put to bed, and he never left the bed again, but died a few days later, on 22 October 1906 of pneumonia. He was buried at the old cemetery Cimetière de Saint Pierre, Aix-en-Provence, France. By the time of his death, a few of his works were being shown across Europe. He left most of his works unfinished and others he destroyed when he was discouraged. On May 10, 1999, Cézanne's painting Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier sold for $60.5 million, the fourth-highest price paid for a painting up to that time. As of 2006, it is the most expensive still life ever sold at an auction.

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