Some would answer the question ‘What are Paul Cézanne’s most famous painting’ with a statement that there is no single most famous painting by him; all his paintings are famous!! However, this is not entirely true, as some paintings are of higher quality, have more art historic value, while others we’ve never even seen as the artist himself destroyed them before we could have a peek.
Today, 19 January, was Cézanne’s birthday, so let’s bestow him with some honor….
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) ~ Famous Works
In particular, let me show you a couple of Cézanne’s most famous paintings and why I include them here. There are several subjects (which Cézanne called ‘motifs’) that were most precious to him. These are 1) still life paintings with apples (akin to Van Gogh’s obsession with sunflowers), 2) landscapes and particularly those featuring Mont St Victoire, and 3) bathers. I am showcasing an artwork for each motif.
Arguably, Cezanne’s still life paintings are most appreciated by the public. This is possibly because Cezanne’s still lifes are not so still, and seem to be quite alife.
Though Cézanne painted still life compositions from the start of his career, it was only in later years that this genre began to occupy an essential place in his work. Apples and Oranges belongs to this period. This most famous artwork ‘Apples and Oranges’ is probably painted in the last 5 years of the 19th century, however, as the painting is not dated, none actually knows exactly when it was finished.
It forms part of a series of six still lifes produced in 1899 in Cézanne’s Parisian studio. Each painting features the same accessories: earthenware dishes and a jug decorated with a floral motif. Their arrangement is also similar, with a draped cloth, reminiscent of 17th century Flemish still lifes, closing the perspective. However, the dynamic effect created by a complex spatial construction and Cézanne’s subjective perception of the arranged objects illustrate his essentially pictorial approach.
This artwork is currently in Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France. According to this prestigious art museum, Apples and Oranges, which combines modernity and sumptuous beauty, is the most important still life produced by Cézanne in the late 1890′s.
The painting motif which held his interest through his years in Aix-en-Provence was the mountain depicted here, Mont Sainte Victoire. This lime stone mountain is not impressive by Alpine standards, but it dominated the landscape of his Provence in a noble and commanding manner. As Cezanne grew up in Aix, he grew up with this mountain. As an artist, it could be said that Cezanne studied Mont Sainte Victoire the way Monet studied his water lilly pond garden.
To Cézanne, the mountain was alive. Firm as a rock, however always changing. Either Cézanne changed his perspective of the mountain by focusing in on a particular part of it, or the light changed transforming the colors and energy the mountain transmitted. He painted Mont Sainte-Victoire a many a times in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.
While I think that his fruit still lives and his landscape paintings outnumber his paintings of ‘bathers’, this painting could be called one of his most famous paintings.
About Cezanne ~ a Role Model on How to Never Give, Even if you have “NO Talent’”
Paul Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence, France, on January 19, 1839. He was raised in a well to do family and poised to become a lawyer. However, after initiating his law school, he confronted his father with his wish to become a painter in Paris instead. Eventually his father agreed to support him in his dream, however he already returned from Paris after 6 months, disillusioned with his own capacity to paint. He had destroyed many of early paintings. A year later, he went to Paris to try again, however he failed the entrance exam for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (the official Painting School in Paris).
It took him till he was 30 years old for his fate and self-confidence as an artist to start taking a more positive turn. He changed subjects (moving from morbid blacks to more colorful landscapes), he met Hortense Fiquet, who became his girlfriend.
Subsequently he had a son, moved to the countryside and met Pissarro, a fatherly figure to him, who became his mentor.
Cezanne’s Influence on the Art of Painting
Paul Cézanne was a leading French Post-Impressionist. He bridged the way from 19th century Impressionism to a revolutionary new world of 20th century Cubism. Both Matisse and Picasso are quoted saying Cézanne was “the father of us all.”
Although his radical departures were underappreciated and even ridiculed in his time, Cézanne’s studies of visual perception, geometric simplification, and experimentation with complex fractured forms kept his style changing significantly over his lifetime. Cézanne was an eccentric, solitary enigma, often working in isolation, removed even from his own family.
More on Cezanne
references: Musee d’Orsay, gardenofpraise.com/