In 1849, at the age of ten, Cezanne began drawing lessons while at the Saint Joseph boarding school. He later enrolled at the College Bourbon where he became good friends with the French author Emile Zola and future astronomer, Jean-Baptistin Baille. They were nicknamed "the inseparable three."
Cezanne was introduced to the ground-breaking French impressionist artists Pissaro, Manet and Degas at the Cafe Guerbois in Paris in 1862. He exhibited with them often but never developed any close relationships with his new peers.
For five years Cezanne submitted works to the Paris Salon but they were always rejected. Only one work was accepted and that was due to the intervention of a peer. At the decree of Napolean III, the Salon des Refuses were created in 1863, mainly for the purpose of exhibiting impressionist works refused by the upper crust Paris Salon. This helped give the impressionist artists the exposure they needed.
Early on, Cezanne admired the works of Delacroix, Courbet and Manet. His own style was heavy with the paint, often using a palette knife rather than a brush. His works were dark in color and covered subjects such as death, rape, abduction and violence. Classic Greek stories were often his inspiration.
During the early 1870's, Camille Pissaro helped Cezanne understand the color and lighting of impressionism. His brush strokes became lighter. It was in the later part of this decade the Cezanne started using parallel and cross hatched brush strokes and moved into Classicism. His compositions became more formal. He then moved into creating works with strong colors with outlined forms being reduced to geometic shapes. This would become to beginnings of cubism.
In 1886, Cezanne's longtime friend Zola wrote L'Oeuvre, the story of a failed artist who commits suicide. Cezanne thought this story was about him and, outraged, ended the friendship
Cezanne has been described as a "slow painter" who was often dissatisfied with his works. He sometimes took several years to finish a piece. If a picture was not signed, that meant he wasn't happy with it yet. Most of his pictures are unsigned. Some art experts say that the reason his portait figures look sad and bored is because they were exactly that - because of having to sit countless hours, not being able to move. Cezanne had a temper and hated when his models needed a break or moved.
There are several works of the "Chateau Noir." Folktales say this home was occupied by the devil because the interior and furniture was painted black. It had been owned by a Marseilles industrialist whose company manufactured lampblack paint which is made from coal.
Unlike the other impressionist painters, Cezanne did not work out of doors on his landscapes. He also changed the landscape and moved details around to fit his own motives. He often used tree trunks and branches to create a framed look to his compositions. He spent his final years working on landscapes.
Paul Cezanne died of pneumonia is 1906.