Volume 38 Issue 6, September 2006

Volume 38 Issue 6

Paul Cézanne: Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley, 1882–85, oil on canvas

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs H.O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.64). Photograph © 2004 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) was born in Aix-en-Provence, France, son of a wealthy banker. At the age of 23, he went to study art in Paris after a family dispute. Many of his early works were painted in dark tones with heavy pigments, echoing the moody, romantic expressionism of previous generations. The most significant influence on his work was Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) and gradually Cézanne developed a lighter palette and a unique method of building form with colour, combined with innovative use of perspective. For many years, his work was known only to his old colleagues and a few young radical artists, but after the first exhibition of his work in Paris in 1895, his reputation quickly grew, and he is now often described as the ”father of modern art“. Between 1882 and 1885, Cézanne painted several pictures in which Mont Sainte-Victoire, to the east of Aix-en-Provence, provides a feeling of permanence as a background to the panoramic Arc River valley.


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