Paul Cézanne

Art on This Day
Curtain, Jug and Fruit 1893–1894, Paul Cezanne.

 

The work of Post-Impressionist French painter Paul Cézanne, born in Aix-en-Provence in 1839, is said to have formed the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic inquiry, Cubism. The mastery of design, tone, composition and color that spans his life's work is highly characteristic and now recognizable around the world.
Both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were greatly influenced by Cézanne.
Cézanne’s work during the 1860s was peculiar and do not bear strong reselmblance to his mature and important style with the subject matter being brooding and melancholy. The paintings include fantasies, dreams, and religious images. His technique in these early paintings is similarly romantic, often impassioned. For his "Man in a Blue Cap" (also called "Uncle Dominique," 1865-1866), he applied pigments with a palette knife, creating a surface everywhere dense with impasto.

 

Man in a Blue Cap or Uncle Dominique, 1866, Paul Cezanne.
 
A fascinating aspect of Cézanne's style in the 1860s is the sense of energy in his work. Though these early works seem groping and uncertain in comparison to the artist's later expressions, they nevertheless reveal a profound depth of feeling.
 Moreover, each seems to be the conception of an artist who could either be a madman or a genius—the world will likely never know, as Cézanne's true character was unknown to many, if not all, of his contemporaries.
Cézanne moved to Pontoise, France in 1871 and spent two years working very closely with Pissarro. He became convinced that one must paint directly from nature which resulted in the religious subjects being depticed in his canvases far less. Additionally, the somber, murky range of his palette began to give way to fresher, more vibrant colors.
Due to his stay in Pontoise, Cézanne decided to participate in the first exhibition of the "Société Anonyme des artistes, peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc." in 1874. This historic exhibition, which was organized by radical artists who'd been persistently rejected by the official Salons, inspired the term "Impressionism"—originally a derogatory expression coined by a newspaper critic—marking the start of the now-iconic 19th century artistic movement.
The exhibit would be the first of eight similar shows between 1874 and 1886. After 1874, however, Cézanne exhibited in only one other Impressionist show. In the third, held in 1877 Cézanne submitted 16 paintings.
Cézanne's paintings from the 1870s are a testament to the influence that the Impressionist movement had on the artist. In "House of the Hanged Man" (1873-1874) and "Portrait of Victor Chocque" (1875-1877), he painted directly from the subject and employed short, loaded brushstrokes—characteristic of the Impressionist style as well as the works of Monet, Renoir and Pissarro. But unlike the way the movement's originators interpreted the Impressionist style, Cézanne's Impressionism never took on a delicate asthetic or sensuous feel; his Impressionism has been deemeed strained and discomforting, as if he were fiercely trying to coalesce color, brushstroke, surface and volume into a more tautly unified entity.
During the 1880s, Cézanne saw less and less of his friends, and several personal events affected him deeply. While painting outdoors in the fall of 1906, Cézanne was overtaken by a storm and became ill. The artist died in the city of his birth, Aix, on October 22, 1906. At the Salon d'Automne of 1907, Cézanne's artistic achievements were honored with a large retrospective exhibition.