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Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cézanne " the father of us all..." cannot be easily dismissed.

Paul Cézanne was born 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence (at number 55 Cours Mirabeau) and died 22 October 1906 in Aix-en-Provence. We introduce our Provençal artist with part of the Wikipedia entry:

Cézanne's work demonstrates a mastery of design, colour, composition and draftsmanship. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognisable. Using planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature, Cézanne's paintings convey intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception.

Studies in Aix

The very young Paul Cézanne was baptised at the église de la Madeleine on 23 rue Boulegon in Aix-en-Provence .

Cézanne attended the college Bourbon for six years, from 1852 to 1859, where he became friends with Emile Zola. College Bourbon is now the lycée Mignet, at 28 rue de l'Opéra (a continuatioin of the Cours Mirabeau to the east). Zola based his character Claude Lantier in Rougon-Macquart on Cézanne.

From 1859 to 1861 Cézanne attended the law school of the University of Aix, and at the same time took drawing lessons from Joseph-Marc Gibert at the Aix Museum.

Mont Sainte Victoire

Cezanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire Mont Sainte Victoire is a 1011-m high east-west mountain ridge located just a few kilometers east of Aix-en-Provence. The western end (towards Aix) and the southern flank have exposed white limestone cliffs, helping to give Sainte Victoire its distinct appearance so admired by Cézanne along with many other painters. Cézanne is said to have painted "the mountain" at least 60 times.

The D10 road northeast from Aix-en-Provence passes along the sloping north side of Ste Victoire, and has some good views of the mountain. This is also called the Route de Vauvenargues, passing through the little Vauvenargues village about 15 km from Aix. (The chateau de Vavenargues was the last home of Pablo Picasso.)

The smaller D17 road (the Route de Tholonet) east from Aix-en-Provence goes through the lovely little village of Le Tholonet and then passes along the steep southern side of the mountain. About half way between Aix and Le Tholonet a stone marks the spot where Cézanne created one of his most famous paintings, the 1885-87 oil of Mont Saint-Victoire later given by him to Joachim Gasquet.

The Bibemus Quarries (Les carrieres Bibémus) where Cézanne did his red-rock and quarry paintings, is in the hills about 3 km east of Aix-en-Provence center, northwest of Le Tholonet.

Aix and Paris

In April 1861 the 23-year-old Cézanne, encouraged by his friend Emile Zola went to Paris to study at the Académie Suisse. During his time in Paris he frequented the Louvre and painted emotionally charged scenes dark portraits. Here he met and became friends with Camille Pissarro and Guillaumin. He would later get to know Claude Monet, Sisley, Bazille and Renoir.

In September of the same year Cézanne returned to Aix-en-Provence after being refused admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. But in November of the following year he returned to Paris to resume his painting.

Cézanne travelled frequently to Paris during his dark or romantic period of 1862-1870, and met Edouard Manet during this time.

At the start of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) Cézanne and his mistress, Marie-Hortense Fiquet to moved from Paris to L'Estaque, 8 km northwest of Marseilles center. In January 1871 Cézanne was declared a draft dodger, but the matter was dropped when the war ended later that year and the couple moved back to Paris.

In January 1872, following the birth of their son, Cézanne and Marie-Hortense moved to Auverse-sur-Oise. Cézanne painted landscapes with his friend Pissarro in Pontoise and Auvers (both about 25 km northwest of Paris). Pointoise was the home of Pissarro; Auvers-sur-Oise was Vincent Van Gogh's final home in 1890.


Cezanne's Jas de Bouffan In the early 1880s Cézanne's father built a studio for him at the family manor of Jas-de-Bouffan. Cézanne worked here, but about this time he stabilized his residence in L'Estaque. He painted there with Renoir in 1882.

The Jas-de-Bouffan countryside area where Cézanne created many of his works is now a high-rise residential area. It's located a couple of kilometers west of the center, west of the A51 and north of the A8 autoroutes.

The actual "Jas" residence is located on the Route de Galice, also called the D64, the main road westward from Aix center that leads past Jas-du-Bouffan to the village of Gallice.

For 15 months between 1885 and 1886 Cézanne lived in the village of Gardanne, in the mining hills 8 km southeast of Aix-en-Provence.

Cézanne married Hortense Fiquet on 28 April 1886; they had been living together for 17 years by then. His father died in October 1886, and Cézanne lived in Provence from then on.

In 1889, after selling the Jas-de-Bouffan, Cézanne moved to 23 Rue Boulegon. In 1901 Cézanne bought some land along the Chemin des Lauves, a small road going north from the center of Aix. He had a studio built there and began painting from there the following year. In 1903 he moved to the Chemin des Lauves studio. That workshop studio and garden is now the Atelier Cézanne), 9 Avenue Paul Cézanne. For those of you who want to follow in his footsteps, this is the one site worth the effort.

On 23 Oct 1906 Paul Cézanne died at his home on Rue Boulegon.

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