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Inspirational Artists: Cezanne

Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906) was a French Post-Impressionist painter whose work is highly characteristic and clearly recognisable. He used layers of colour and small brushstrokes clear outlines that all built up to form complex works. He bridged the old syles and truely opened up modern art an both Matisse and Picasso are said to have remarked that Cézanne "is the father of us all."

The Cézannes came from the town of Saint-Sauveur in Aix-en-Provence and a wealthy banking family. In 1852 Cézanne entered the Collège Bourbon, where he became friends with Émile Zola.and complying with his father's wishes, Cézanne attended the law school of the University of Aix, while also receiving drawing lessons. Like many of his contemporaries he went against his family wishes to pursue his artistic development . He was strongly encouraged to make this decision by Zola, who was already living in Paris. Eventually, his father reconciled with Cézanne and supported his choice of career. Cézanne later received an inheritance of 400,000 francs from his father, which rid him of all financial worries.

In Paris, Cézanne met the Impressionist Camille Pissarro.Over the course of the following decade their landscape painting excursions together, in Louveciennes and Pontoise, led to a collaborative working relationship between equals.

In 1866–67, inspired by the example of Courbet, Cézanne painted a series of paintings with a palette knife. He later called these works, mostly portraits. , une couillarde ("a coarse word for ostentatious virility"). After the start of the Franco-Prussian War in July 1870, Cézanne and his mistress, Marie-Hortense Fiquet, left Paris for L'Estaque, near Marseilles, where he changed themes to predominantly landscapes. He was declared a draft dodger in January 1871, but the war ended the next month, in February, and the couple moved back to Paris, in the summer of 1871. Pissarro lived in Pontoise. There and in Auvers he and Cézanne painted landscapes together.

The year 1886 was a turning point for the family. Cézanne married also, Cézanne's father died, leaving him the estate purchased in 1859; he was 47. Cézanne's idyllic period at Jas de Bouffan was temporary. From 1890 until his death he was beset by troubling events and he withdrew further into his painting, spending long periods as a virtual recluse. His paintings became well-known and sought after and he was the object of respect from a new generation of painters.

Cézanne's works were rejected numerous times by the official Salon in Paris and ridiculed by art critics when exhibited with the Impressionists'. Yet during his lifetime Cézanne was considered a master by younger artists who visited his studio in Aix. After Cézanne died in 1906, his paintings were exhibited in Paris in a large museum-like retrospective in September 1907. The 1907 Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d'Automne greatly affected the direction that the avant-garde in Paris took, lending credence to his position as one of the most influential artists of the 19th century and to the advent of Cubism.

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