Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) 'The Father of Modern Art', according to Picasso February 25 2017, 0 Comments

He is widely known as one of the artists who had a lot of influence in the history of 20th century painting. He was born and died in his beloved Aix-en-Provence - the town and local countryside are featured many times in his most famous paintings and were a lifelong inspiration to his work. 


His life

Paul Cézanne originates from a wealthy middle-class family in Provence. His father owned a prosperous hat business in Aix.

Cézanne made all his studies in Aix en Provence, acquiring a solid traditional culture and made friends with some of his classmates, especially Emile Zola his best friend and most intimate confidant.

As his father intended that he studied law, he registered at the faculty of Aix in 1858. His artistic vocation however was advanced enough that he thought of going to study painting in Paris.

He made a first Parisian stay in spring and summer of 1861, enrolling at the Academy Suisse where he meets Pissarro and Guillaumin. Cézanne failed to the entrance exam to the School of Fine Arts. Hence he returned to Aix to work in his father's bank. He left again one year later for Paris where he re-registered at the Academy Suisse. It was then that Cezanne gave up his hesitations, discouragement and decided to be a painter.

Cézanne, being a self-educated painter, his first paintings were qualified as awkward compared to the others Impressionists of the 20th century. However his work already shows a great diversity of genres: portraits, historical or religious scenes, still life paintings, landscapes of Provence...

Thanks to the paternal support, the young painter does not have the same money problems as some of his friends (Monet, Renoir, Guillaumin).

In 1869, Cezanne meets Hortense Fiquet, a model who will become his companion. 

Cezanne was afraid of his father, a narrow-minded and severe man, and hide the relationship to him until 1878, 6 years after the birth of his son Paul.

The couple passes the war of 1870-1871 in Provence, then returns to settle in Paris. In 1871, Pissaro proposed to Cezanne to settle in Pontoise with his family. Their collaboration will be very intense and profitable for the two of them. At this time Cézanne totally changed his way of painting. Cézanne will devote especially to painting landscape in open-air.

Cezanne painted his landscapes in Ile-de-France area, and in his native Provence where he wandered through the hills around the Sainte-Victoire Mountain. Starting from then, Cézanne was spending more and more time in Provence.

On October 15, 1906, Cezanne was painting in the countryside close to mountain of Sainte Victoire when he was surprised by a storm. He had a fainting fit and stayed for many hours unconscious under the rain before being loaded on a cart and brought to his house. While he was in a very bad shape, he was thinking of his unfinished paintings and sends a furiously written note to his supplier of colors: "For 8 days I have ordered 10 tubes of lacquers and not yet received a reply. What is going on? Please answer me quickly.”

This reflects the importance that his painting was more important than his health.

Few days after his discomfort, he went to work in his garden with a portrait of the gardener Vallier. He came back in a very bad condition. When his family arrives, it is too late to see him alive again. Paul Cézanne died on October 23, 1906, at the age of 67 years. He is buried in the cemetery of Aix en Provence.

The role of art amateurs in his recognition was quite essential, during his lifetime and after his death. It is indeed Ambroise Vollard a French art dealer who revealed Cézanne to his contemporaries and made him truly popular in France in 1895.



Cezanne who was no considered at his beginnings, and still late in his life, appears today to be a capital figure in art history.

Painting was for him work of a workman, a solitary work, except for rare moments, almost painful, practiced without interruption.

Cezanne placed very high the aims of art, wanting to produce paintings "which are a teaching". Also his paintings are increasingly considered as it ages, matured in the introspection. He was an artist who brought the Nature at the first plan.

In 2006 the city of Aix-en-Provence celebrated the centenial of Paul Cézanne's death with a year rich in demonstrations. The exhibition "Cézanne in Provence", of international significance, inaugurated the reopening of the Granet museum which is one of the richest museums in Provence. 120 major works (80 oils, 40 water colors) painted by Cézanne in Provence or on the subject of the Provence landscapes.

Many of these paintings are lent to international museums and private collections.

Moreover, visitors after the visit of the exhibition will be able to discover the places of Cezanne's life in Aix countryside, the points of view on Sainte-Victoire, the Bibémus quarry, Jas de Bouffan, and all the other places always impressed of his presence.

The legacy of Cézanne in Provence is impressive. For instance, you will for sure drive with your car on boulevards called Cezanne in Provence, park your car at the Cezanne Parking, book a room in a Cezanne Hotel and a lot more. Cézanne is everywhere! Even meeting rooms of an international company in Provence use the name of Cézanne!

A lot of schools and architectural buildings use his name in tribute of his artwork and heritage. Cezanne reminds sweet and charming Provence. Indirectly he made the region of Provence famous around the world; you can feel the love he had for this region throughout his paintings that is the reason why Calissons by Gilles is honored to count the Cezanne collection in our product line.


Things to do around Cézanne

If you plan walking in the footsteps of Cézanne, there are a lot of spots to visit.

The first one and essential is the Sainte Victoire Mountain where Cézanne made a lot of paintings of this picturesque landscape. Unbelievable, this landscape hasn’t change since then. You’ll feel totally connected and immerged there. For this you can reach the village of Beaurecueil where some spots are referenced as point of view where Cezanne has made his paintings. There is a path that you can follow.

Close to the Sainte Victoire Mountain, the Bibémus quarry gave rise to a series of paintings from Cézanne. You can reach this point via a bus line in Aix en Provence which will bring you there. At this point you will be able to follow a path that will lead to the lake of Zola, a beautiful and quiet place to have a break.


 Then you can visit the village of Gardanne to stroll at the cours of Gardanne on a Sunday, day of market, (one of the beautiful one of the area) and take a coffee in a Bar installed just under an apartment where Cezanne lived with his family. You won’t miss it! The city is proud of this heritage and clearly displays it to the visitors.

Gardanne is the only village that Cézanne ever painted.

This is one of three views of Gardanne, a hill town near Aix-en-Provence.
Currently, this painting is on exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
You still can reach the place where Cézanne made this painting; follow the hill of Brothers path (‘la colline des frères’) in Gardanne.

About The Author:

Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.