Cézanne, Paul



Impressionism: partaking 2 ‘impressionist’ expositions

Paul Cézanne


Merely a Post-Impressionist

Was Cézanne an Impressionist?
Most books on Impressionism render ample room for Paul Cézanne. This is strange, while art-historian agree that Impressionism was just a fase in his artistic career during about 1872-78. When we look closely this is even more strange, because Cézanne never fully was an Impressionist. He was just a side-figure within the ‘impressionist’ art-movement. He was no co-founder of the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc and passively only joined 2 of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions just exhibiting 20 works. Though he maintained lifelong contacts with Pissarro and Renoir and also had contacts with Monet and Guillaumin, he was not in the centre of the circles of friends. Also because much of his time he stayed in the south of France in the surroundings of Aix-en-Provence.
When we look at his painting style we see that Cézanne often used subdued colours. Though his brushstroke can be loose, he often used broad expressive brushstrokes or patterns of symmetric brushstrokes, in both ways the painting doesn’t vibrate very much. Cézanne his focus mostly is not on the influence of the fleeting light on the colours of the subject, but on using colours to render form, on rendering a solid composition. This we can also see in the titles of his work; here are almost no indications of season, time of day or weather conditions. Cézanne called 11 of the 20 works he exhibited at the ‘impressionist’ exposotions a study. It seems that he didn’t agree with the impressionist idea that a sketchy way of rendering a subject is the best way of depicting the fleeting moment. Though it is true that he mostly painted en-plein-air, that his palet was lightened under the influence of Pissarro and that he announced blacks, we still can say that Cézanne hardly painted in an impressionist style.

Cézanne joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions only two times:
At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition Cézanne showed 3 works, 2 of them he called a study (catalogue numbers 42-44). He was urgently requested to exhibit by Pissarro (R48). Zola (1874/04/18) praised his youth friend for his ‘great originality’. Prouvaire (=Toloza;1874/04/20) mentioned his ‘over-exclusive love of yellow’ (R2,p126;R87,p234/5). Most critics are disdainful (R48;R164,p10).
Cézanne refused to join the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 (R48).
At the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition Cézanne showed 16+1hc=17 works, 9 of them he called a study, 1 work was not in the catalogue (=hc) (numbers 17-32+hc). 6 works were (flower) still lifes. Most critics were negative; there was a positive review by Georges Rivière. (R48)
See link for the pictures exhibited in 1874 and in 1877. See link for an account.

Cézanne at the Salon and other exhibitions:
Cézanne was rejected many times at the Salon. The only time he exhibited at the Salon was in 1882 with the portrait of M. L.A. (now lost), being called a pupil of Guillemet (iR1;R48;R33,p63;R164,p11;R3). He certainly is rejected for the Salons of 1863 +64 + 65 + 66 (2 works) + 74 + 76 + 77 + 79 (R48;R34,p21-3;R164,p8;R5,p113;R88II,p398+400). In 1863 he exhibited at the Salon des Refusés, but was not mentioned in the catalogue (R34,p21;iR1). In 1866 he asked for a new Salon des Refusés (R48;R34,p21-3;R164,p8).
Cézanne exhibited at other exhibitions. He exhibited with ‘les XX‘ in Brussels in 1887 + 90 (R48;R34,p49). He exhibited at ‘La Libre Esthétique’ in Brussels in 1901, in 1904 and posthumous in 1913 (R48;R231). He exhibited at the Salon-des-Indépendants in 1899 + 1901 + 02 + 05  (R285,p369;R48;R34,p63+67;R164,p14). He exhibited at the Salon-d’Automne (=SdA) in 1904 (one room; 31 works) + 1905 + 1906 (10 works) + 1907 (posthumous; 56 works) (R249;R48;R34,p67;R163,p130;R164,p15). He exhibited at some regional exhibitions. He exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1889 (=EU-C-1889; with the ‘house of the hang-man’↓) and again in 1900 (R48;R34,p49+66). Cézanne had one man shows at Vollard in 1895 (150 works) and Bernheim-Jeune posthumous in 1910 (68 works) (R48;R34,p64;R163,p106;R164,p13). 4 works posthumously were exhibited at a Centennial exhibition in Saint-Petersbourg in 1912. See account.

Cézanne, his first ‘dramatic / romantic / expressionistic’ years:
In 1856 Cézanne started with drawing lessons (R164,p5;R48). In 1860 he was inspired by Loubon, a regional painter (R48). In 1860 (or 1862) he started a friendship with the painter Achille Emperaire (R48;R34,p18). From April till September 1861 Cézanne stayed in Paris and visited the Académie Suisse. Here he started friendships with Pissarro and Guillaumin. He also copied at the Louvre and was inspired by Caravaggio, Courbet, Daumier, Delacroix, Rembrandt, Rubens, Velázquez. Cézanne was rejected for the École des Beaux-Arts (R48;R34,p16;R164,p6;R33,p17). From November 1862 till July 1864 he visited the Académie Suisse again and again he was rejected for the École des Beaux-Arts. In these day he met Francisco Oller and Guillemet and he sometimes visited Café Guerbois, but was not very involved. He also had contacts with Bazille, Monet, Renoir and Sisley (R48;R34,p18;R164,p7;R33,p19+39). In 1866 Cézanne was acquainted with Manet; he despised his idle behaviour (R48;R34,p26;R164,p8). Cézanne also would detest Degas (R48,p6).
The themes Cézanne rendered in his early works were: decadence, violence, cruelness, death and erotism. He depicted scenes from the mythology, the Bible and literature and rendered them in a very dramatic way, using dark-light contrasts with grey and dark shadows. Women are depicted as a temptation or as a victim. Bodies are rendered in a distorted way. In these works he expressed his own fears and desires. The brushstroke is energetic, applying thick paint. He often used a palet knife. (R34,p23-7;R164,p24;R33,p24). His works can be described as ‘wild-expressionistic’ (R34,p28). Dony / Braun described this first period as his ‘romantic period’ until 1971 (R48,p84). Manet described Cézanne with disdain as a ‘mason with his trowel’ (R34,p38).
Though Dony / Braun (R48) and Nonhoff (R34) let this period end in 1871, Cézanne continued to paint the same dramatic themes in the rest of the 1870s (R48,no252+268+271+280). The distinctive periods in his career can beter be seen as a spiral than as a straight line (R164,p35).

Cézanne, the impressionist years:
In 1872 Cézanne started to paint in the surroundings of Pontoise (R48;R34,p31). In the same year Dr. Gachet started to support Cézanne (R48;R34,p34). In 1873 he met the art-dealer Père Tanguy (R48;R34,p34) and in 1875 the art-collector Victor Chocquet, who would collect 32 of his works (R48,p8;R34,p35;R3). In 1877 he painted again in the surroundings of Pontoise (R48). In that year he had not many contacts with his friends (R48).
In 1870 in l’Estaque Cézanne started to paint motives from nature and he would do so the rest of his live (R34,p28). In 1872 Pissarro teached him to observe nature, to lighten his palet, to renounce blacks, to render the influence of light and to use short brushstrokes (R34,p32+44;R164,p25).
Later on Cézanne would develop a distinctive brushstroke by using patterns of  symmetric, rectangular brushstrokes (R34,p33+43+70;R164,p21). He would use this brushstroke to render form and volume and tightly composed works, rather than rendering the momentary influence of light (R34,p39;R164,p20/1;R33,p). With this brushstroke he would accentuate the rectangular shapes of house and roofs (R164,p25/6).

Cézanne, the later Post-Impressionist years:
In 1880 Cézanne renewed the contacts with his impressionist friends (R48). From May till October 1881 he painted again in Pontoise with Pissarro (R34,p41;R48). In 1883 + 1885 he painted with Renoir in Roche-Guyon (R48). In 1883 he painted with Monticelli in the Provence (R48). February 1884 he met Monet and Renoir in l’Estaque (R48). In 1888 Cézanne met Van Gogh, but he didn’t like his work (R48). In the Summer of 1889 Renoir visited Cézanne at ‘Jas de Bouffan‘. Together they painted the Mont Sainte-Victoire (R34,p77;R48). In 1894 Cézanne visited Monet in Giverny; they had frequent quarrels (R48). In 1900 Maurice Denis painted his ‘homage à Cézanne’ (R48;R163,p106). In 1902 Cézanne met Charles Camoin and Émile Bernard (R48).

Mario de Micheli divides this later period in several periods, but is not consistent. He writes about periods of ‘constructive analysis’ (1878-1890), ‘syntheticism’ (1890-1906). (R164,p11+26/7). The period of constructive analysis is also called Cézanne’s ‘period of constructivism’ (R164,no28+32). But later on he indicates that the ‘synthetic period’ already started around 1882 à 1887 and he calls the period 1900-1906 his grand finale, a ‘lyrical period’ (R164,p26/7). Dony /Braun dates the ‘constructive period’ from 1878-1887 (R48,p102). Cézanne combined Classicism, which was focussed on the construction and Romanticism, which was focussed on rendering emotions through colour (R33,p9).

Cézanne rejected the rendering of traditional laws of perspective: lines don’t come together in one vanishing point, but continue in different directions; the line of the horizon was no longer straight horizontal; the depth in his paintings disappeared; foreground and background dissolved (R34,p46-7+51+71+79;R164,p22). Cézanne rendered a motive seen from different viewpoints (R34,p55;R163,p127;R164,p22). He already did so with houses in l’Estaque (R34,p43). Cézanne didn’t purely want to render what he saw, but to construct a harmonic and firm composition parallel to nature, to create a new reality, to render what lies behind the natural phenomenon, to render the sense of it’s duration (R34,p46+54;R164,p16-8;R33,p8). The painting so becomes an autonomous entity (R164,p21). He reduced the painted elements to 3 elementary forms: the sphere, the cone, the cilinder (R34,p70;R164,p21/2;R33,p7/8;R48,p6). His bathers have disfigured bodies, no human expression and no relation with each other (R34,p82). Portraits lack emotion and individuality to show the constant in a character (R164,no35). Cézanne used terrestrial colours, many browns and greyish blues and greens (R34,p45-7). Many used motives are: Mont Sainte-Victoire  (R34,p46/7+78/9;R163,p128); bathers (R34,p82-85;R48); portraits (R48;R34;R48); still lives (R34,p54-7); the quarry at Bibémus (R34,p49+70);  card players (R34,p59;R163,p112).
Cézanne has been an inspiration for cubistique painters like Braque, Gris, Léger, Picasso and fauvist painters like Derain and Matisse (R334,p88-91;R163;R164,p16;R48,p9).

Cézanne as an artist:
In total Cézanne made more than 30 self-portraits and more than 40 portraits of his wife (R164,p33/4). In total Cézanne depicted the Mont Sainte-Victoire at least 65 times (R164,no74). It often took Cézanne an excessive amount of time to complete a painting; therefore he used artificial fruit for his still-lives (R164,no24).

Cézanne his character:
Cézanne could be very suspicious (R33,p9;R48,p10). He could have outbursts of anger (R33,p9+11;R48,p7). He had periods of depression (R33,p39). He could be arrogant and shy (R33,p10/11). He had fear for live and women in particular (R33,p10). Cézanne would attract and alienate people (R33,p9). He was afraid of being touched (R33,p9). In the 1880s he became a fervent Catholic believer (R33,p10).

Cézanne, a short biography:

  • 1839/01/19: Paul Cézanne was born at 23, Rue-de-l’Opéra in Aix-en-Provence (R48;R33,p11;R34,p8;R163,p8;R164,p3;R33,p11), 33km north of Marseille (iR9). Nonhoff writes at one page he was born the 9th; probably an erratum (R34,p7).
  • 1841/07/04: his sister Marie was born (R48;R34,p7)
  • 1844/01/29: his father Louis-Auguste officially married his mother Anne Élisabeth Honorine Aubert (R48;R34,p8;R164,p8;R33,p12).
  • 1848: his father started as a banker; the family became rich (R48;R34,p7).
  • 1852: at school start friend with Emile Zola and Baptistin Baille (R48;R34,p10;R163,p18;R164,p4;R33,p22).
  • 1854/06/30: his sister Rose was born (R48;R34,p7)
  • 1858/02: Zola moved to Paris and became a writer and art-critic (R48;R34,p13;R164,p5;R33,p15); he would hardly mention Cézanne in his articles (R34,p53;R33,p40).
  • 1859: his father bought the estate ‘Jas de Bouffan‘, where Paul had his own little studio (R48;R34,p14;R164,p3).
  • 1861/04-09: lived at Rue des Feuillantines in Paris (R48;R164,p6).
  • His father gave him a monthly support of 150 francs (R34,p17).
  • 1862/11-1864/07: again in Paris (R48).
  • 1864-70 (and also later on): Cézanne would live alternating periods in the south (mainly in Aix and l’Estaque) and in Paris (and surroundings) (R164,p8;R48;R34).
  • 1869: started a relationship with Hortense Fiquet; kept the relationship hidden for his father (R48;R34,p28+50;R163,p42;R164,p10).
  • 1870/71: stayed during the Franco-Prussian war in L’Estaque (R48;R34,p28;R164,p9), 11km north-west of Marseille (iR9).
  • 1871: lived at the Rue de Chevreuse in Paris (R48;R34,p29).
  • 1872/01/04: his son Paul is born; kept it hidden for his father (R48;R34,p31+50;R163,p42;R164,p10).
  • 1872/Spring: moved to Pontoise (R48;R34,p31).
  • 1872/Autumn – 1874/Spring: moved to Auvers-sur-Oise; lived in the house of Dr. Gachet, who would also buy his pictures (R34,p34;R48).
  • 1874+75: lived at 120, Rue de Vaugirard in Paris, the same address as Guillaumin rendered; also stayed in the south of France (R2,p120;R48).
  • 1876: stayed partly in l’Estaque (R48).
  • 1877: lived at 67, Rue de l’Ouest in Paris (R2,p204;R48).
  • 1878/07 – 1879/03: is most of the time in l’Estaque and often went to Aix (R34,p42;R48)
  • 1878: his father discovered the existence of his grandson and reduced the financial assistance (R48,p8;R34,p50). Zola would support the family (R34,50+53).
  • 1879/05 – 1880/02: stayed in Melun (R48;R34,p41), about 50km south-east of Paris (iR9).
  • 1879-85: Often visited Zola in Médan (R48;R34,p41+53), 33km west of Paris (iR9)
  • 1880/02-1881/05: stayed in Paris (R48).
  • 1881/05-10: stayed in Pontoise (R34,p41;R48).
  • 1882/03-09: stayed in Paris (R48). his address given for the Salon was 32, Rue de l’Ouest, Paris (iR1). Was this another address than 1877 or was the numbering changed?
  • 1884: was most of the time in Aix (R48).
  • 1885: had a short love affair (R48).
  • 1886: Zola published his novel ‘l’Oeuvre’ about the painter Claude Lantier; Cézanne recognized himself in the painter and broke up the friendship with Zola (R48,p9;R163,p86;R164,p12)
  • 1886/04/28: married Hortense Fiquet (R48;R34,p49;R163,p82;R164,p10)
  • 1886/10/23: his father died; Paul inherited a large amount of money (R48,p9;R34,p49;R163,p82;R164,p11)
  • 1890: Cézanne left his studio on 15, Quai d’Anjou, next to the studio of Guillaumin (R179,p33+47). Maybe he already used this studio in 1875 (R8,260/1;R1,p356;R5,p91;R4,p144).
  • 1891: holiday in Switzerland (R48;R164,p13); or in 1890 (R34,p49).
  • 1895: large solo exhibition at Gallerie Vollard (iR194).
  • 1897/10/25: his mother died (R48;R34,p63;R164,p13).
  • 1899/10: lived (also) at 31, Rue Ballu, Paris (R285,p369).
  • 1899: sold the estate Jas de Bouffan (R34,p72).
  • 1899: bought (or rented)  a house at 23, Rue Boulegon, Aix-en-Provence; he would live her until his death; his wife and son lived most of the time in Paris (R48;R34,p51+72;R164,p13).
  • 1901/11: builded a house with a high studio in Les Lauves a few kilometers north of Aix; it is now open for visitors (R48;R34,p72/3).
  • 1902/09/29: Zola died (R48)
  • 1906/10/22: Cézanne died in his house in Aix after he had caught cold in a heavy storm while painting outside (R48;R164,p15); Borghesi writes he died the 23th (R163,p128).
  • 1906: Cézanne is buried at a cemetery in Aix-en-Provence (R48).
  • 1907: posthumous exhibition at the Salon d’Automne (iR194).
  • 1923: the Chemin des Lauves in Aix is renamed Avenue Paul Cézanne (R48).

My main sources are the online cezannecatalogue (=FWN=iR194;cpR118), Murphy (1971=R33), Nonhoff (2005=R34), Dony / Braun (1976=R48,p11-14), Borghesi (2006=R163), De Micheli (1968=R164). Other main sources are Rewald (R1), Moffett (1986=R2), Walther (R3,p653), Denvir (R5), Dayez / Adhémar (R87), Berson (1996 =R90), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR3) and the additional references (aRx). The older sources mostly refer to the Catalogue Raisonné of Venturi (1936): Cézanne, son art, son oeuvre (referred to as CRx=R189). My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are the-athenaeum (iR2), Wikimedia (iR6), Google-images (iR10), Mutualart (iR11), iR392, and the additional references (aRx). See link for other general references (=R) and for other references to internet sites (=iR). For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading:


Additional references:

  1. paulcezanne.org (info + pictures of Cézanne; the info on the pictures is limited)
  2. “Paul Cézanne.” In Database of Modern Exhibitions (DoME). European Paintings and Drawings 1905-1915. Last modified Dec 17, 2020. http://exhibitions.univie.ac.at/person/ulan/500004793  =iR261; overview of contributions of Cézanne in exhibitions and auctions from 1905-1915
  3. christies.com/cézanne-5448 (article by Alex Danchev on Cézanne and L’Estaque 2015/01/09; =iR15)


Recommanded citation: “Impressionism: Paul Cézanne, merely a post-impressionist. Last modified 2024/01/26.  https://www.impressionism.nl/cezanne-paul/.”