Paul Cézanne

1839 - 1906
Paul Cézanne
Cézanne, Self Portrait, about 1880 

Cézanne associated with the Impressionists, but always had other aims. He said that his ambition was to 'make of Impressionism something solid and durable like the art of museums'. Cézanne's work was discovered by the Paris avant-garde during the 1890s. It had a significant influence on Picasso and the development of 20th-century art.


Cézanne's boyhood in Provence was dominated by his father, a wealthy banker, and his friend Emile Zola. Under family pressure he trained as a lawyer in his native Aix while attending lessons at the local drawing academy. After moving to Paris he attended a private art school (the Académie Suisse).

Cézanne absorbed many influences, including those of Courbet and Manet, in his early years. In his early works he often imitated Courbet, applying thick layers of paint with a palette knife. He later told Renoir that it took him twenty years to realise that painting was not sculpture. In the 1880s his brushwork became increasingly systematic and ordered. He worked slowly and methodically, selecting subjects he could study for long periods.