Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Paul Cézanne

Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne worked primarily in Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France. He became a painter only after much disagreement with his father, who encouraged him to study law and banking. Although he regularly spent short periods in Paris, he spent most of the rest of his life in Aix and nearby L’Estaque, where he painted scenes from the surrounding countryside.

Key piece to look for: House in the Country, 1877-79.

Cézanne is best known for his landscapes of the countryside around Aix-en-Provence, which he painted by slowly building up broad, thick strokes of color, giving his paintings a richness of color and lack of outlines. He adopted the impressionist style of working outdoors, often picking almost inaccessible vantage points to work from. He approached his subjects analytically. “Deal with nature as cylinders, spheres, and cones,” he said. He even went as far as to study the geology of a landscape in order to know “its geological structure…how [its] roots work, the colors of the geological soils.”

Image credit: Paul Cézanne, House in the Country, about 1877-79. Oil on canvas; 23-1/2 x 28-7/8 in. Wadsworth Atheneum; Anonymous gift.

Laura Barton is an intern in the Denver Art Museum's education department. Her favorite artwork on view right now is Louis Anquetin's Avenue de Clichy (Street-Five O'clock in the Evening).