Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) was a Post-Impressionist French painter who bridged the gap between the Impressionism movement of the 19th century and the Cubism style of 20th century. Although not famous in his lifetime, Cézanne is now considered one of the most important and influential painters in modern art history. Both Matisse and Picasso called him "the father of us all."
As this Art Institute of Chicago biography reveals, Paul Cézanne "was a shy man who adopted a deliberately crude, rustic manner to keep people away." As part of the museum's Art Explorer website, you can create a free online account and create a scrapbook of artists and artworks that interest you. This resource includes a short biography, a gallery of nine paintings, and a dozen critical analyses of artworks including Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Armchair and Basket of Apples.
Paul Cézanne "epitomized the reaction against [Impressionism] when he declared: 'I wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and enduring, like the art in museums.'" He accomplished this by creating the style that became known as Post-Impressionism. At this MoMA virtual exhibit, you can explore a gallery of his works, although "he rarely dated his works (and often did not sign them either)."
With hundreds of images of Cézanne's paintings available, you can really get a feel for the artist's style. There are many still lifes, landscapes, and a half dozen self-portraits. Many of the paintings are very dark, revealing how this shy and unhappy man felt about the world around him. The site also includes a biography and a selection of links to more Cézanne sites.
"Cézanne is an artist's artist. He was obsessed with form rather than content, so subject matter was always secondary to the act of painting itself. He wanted the methods and skills of the painter to be more important than the image." Art historians divide Cézanne body of work into three phases. The WebMuseum presents an excellent tour through these phases, sprinkling his biography with links to appropriate artwork. "His paintings of 1865-70 form what is usually called his early romantic period. Extremely personal in character, it deals with bizarre subjects of violence and fantasy in harsh, somber colors and extremely heavy paintwork."
Cézanne tried many times to show his work but got rejected over and over again. "In 1895, the dealer Ambroise Vollard (1867 - 1939) held Cézanne's first one-man exhibition at his gallery in Paris. Although the exhibition met with some skepticism, Cézanne's reputation grew quickly." Just after his death, additional successful exhibitions guaranteed he would forever be well known and admired in the art world. In addition to the Cézanne biography and a slideshow of paintings, this Met site has an interactive timeline of 19th century France, placing Cézanne against the backdrop of his times.