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Paul Cézanne. The Village of Gardanne (Le Village de Gardanne), 1885-1886. Oil and conté crayon on canvas. 92.1 x 73.2 cm, frame: 7.3 x 118.1 x 100.6 cm. Brooklyn Museum; Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and Alfred T. White Fund, 23.105.

Paul Cézanne

"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art."

At the age of 20, Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) abandoned his legal studies and decided to become a painter. In 1861 he enrolled in the Academie Suisse in Paris, in preparation for his entrance exam at the École des Beaux-Arts. When he was refused admission to the École, Cézanne returned home to resume his law studies. A year later he was back in Paris. Through his friends at the Academie, Cézanne developed friendships with several of the Impressionist painters, resulting in his participation in the first and third Impressionist group exhibitions in 1874 and 1877.

In 1874, Cézanne left Paris with his companion and their son, and moved to Auvers. There, he received encouragement from Camille Pissarro, who persuaded him to paint directly from nature, resulting in the elimination of some of the darker colours from his palette. For Cézanne, drawing and colour were inseparable. He sometimes downplayed the Impressionist concern with momentary effects of colour and light in favour of more structured compositions and colour harmonies. Cézanne’s interpretation of the landscape was constantly evolving. And while he remained interested in recording its constant flux, he also wanted to show something of its permanence, or what he called the “eternal” realm of nature.