home > paul cézanne > his periods

1862 – 1872 : « Couillarde » period

During the first ten years, Cézanne alternated between living in Aix and Paris. When in Paris, he diligently frequented the Louvre, where he forged his artistic style. He particularly liked two French artists: Delacroix and Courbet. Cézanne then painted in thick layers using painting knives. His colors were dark and his canvases saturated with paint. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, Cézanne hid in the Estaque, close to Marseilles, to escape the draft, accompanied by Hortense Fiquet, who often served as his model from 1869 onwards. This encounter led to the birth of a son, Paul, in 1872, but Cézanne didn’t marry Hortense until 1886, that is to say fourteen years later.

1862: He leaves his father’s bank and goes back to Paris (November).
1863: He exhibits in the Refusés Gallery, he works at the Swiss academy where he often meets with Pissaro, Guillaumin, Guillemet, and Oller, and he copies paintings in the Louvre.
1864: He was refused by the Gallery and was refused once again during the following years. He remains in Estaque, close to Marseilles.
1865: After having spent the year in Paris, where he was refused by the Gallery, he returns to Aix for the summer where he meets with Valabrègue, Marion, and the German musician Morstatt.
1866: In Aix, in autumn, Cézanne paints an entire series of still lifes and portraits with a knife.
1869: In Paris, he meets Hortense Fiquet, who he will later wed.
1870: During the Franco-Prussian War, he takes refuge in Estaque.

1872 – 1883 : « Impressionnist » period

Cézanne painted at Pissarro’s side and the two artists influenced each other. During this period of eleven years, Cézanne often painted in Auvers-sur-Oise where he settled for a time with Hortense and the young Paul. Planting his easel on the edges of the Oise or the Seine, in the countryside around Paris, Cézanne learned to paint in the open air. His palette lightened. His touch became finer and more precise. In 1874 and 1877, he exhibited with the Impressionists. Apart from a few admirors, such as Victor Choquet, whom Cézanne met in 1875, the vast majority of the public, whether in Paris or Aix, did not understand Cézanne’s work and mocked it. After a long stay in Melun in 1879, Cézanne returned to Provence and in 1882, was visited by Renoir at Estaque. That same year, he exhibited at the Gallery thanks to the intervention of Guillemet, but it would prove to be the only time he exhibited there. In 1883, he traveled all over Provence, accompanied by Monticelli, and was visited by Renoir and Monet.

1872: Birth of Paul, son of the artist and Hortense.
1874-77: He takes part in the first and the third impressionist exhibits.
1882: He is accepted at the Gallery, the only time in his career.

1883 – 1895 : « Constructive » period

This next twelve-year period was one of maturity. The artist increased in serenity but the man was disturbed. In 1885, an emotional incident disturbed him. In 1886, he parted ways with his childhood friend Emile Zola following the publication of the novel “L’œuvre”. Cézanne recognized himself in the character of Claude Lantier, a failure of an artist, a lost genius who, powerless to create, ends up committing suicide. The same year, his father died, leaving him a sizeable fortune. He exhibited in Brussels in 1887 with the XX group, then at the Decennial in 1889. In 1892, he stayed in Fontainebleau and in 1894, with Monet in Giverny, where he met Gustave Geoffroy, Clémenceau, and Rodin.

1883: He meets Monet and Renoir in the south of France.
1886: Following the publication of Zola’s L’Oeuvre, Cézanne parts ways with his former comrade from the Bourbon school. He marries Hortense (April). The artist’s father dies (October).
1887: Cézanne rents a room at the Château Noir in the pistachio tree’s patio.

1895 – 1906 : « Synthetic » period

During this last period of eleven years, Cézanne’s painting became more dynamic, and his forms more fluid. In 1895, the exhibit that Vollard organized in his Paris gallery established Cézanne’s reputation with young artists and some admirers. In 1896, after a restorative stay in Vichy, he stayed by the Annecy Lake. This same year, he formed a fast friendship with a young poet from Aix, Joachim Gasquet. Cézanne’s mother died in 1897. In 1899, the year the Jas de Bouffan was sold, Cézanne showed three canvases at the Independents’ Gallery. He became internationally famous. Museums in Berlin and Essen bought works from him. In a canvas entitled “Homage to Cézanne”, Maurice Denis arranged around him some young painters and admirers: Maurice Denis, Odilon Redon, Roussel, Sérusier, Vuillard. In 1902, the death of Zola profoundly affected Cézanne. In 1904 and 1905, he exhibited at the Autumn Gallery. His work is finally recognized. On October 15th, 1906, surprised by a storm while painting “The Cottage of M. Jourdan” in the Aix countryside, he fell ill. He died on October 23rd, 1906, one year after the emergence of the Fauvism, two years before that of Cubism, and four years before the first abstract painting.

1895: From Aix, Cézanne goes to Mont Sainte Victoire and the Carrières de Bibemus where he rents a cottage. The merchant Vollard organizes in his gallery the first individual exhibit devoted to Cézanne (November).
1897: Cézanne works in Tholonet and at the Bibemus quarry. The artist’s mother dies (October 25th).
1899: After the sale of Jas de Bouffan, Cézanne fails to purchase Château Noir. He exhibits paintings at the Independents Gallery. He moves into 23 Boulegon Street.
1899: The painter buys property along the Lauves road through Aix, in order to establish his studio there.
1902: Ambroise Vollard visits Cézanne in Aix. The painter learns of Zola’s death with great sadness.
1904: Emile Bernard and Charles Camoin visit Cézanne in Aix.
1905: Cézanne exhibits his work at the Autumn Gallery.
1906: Cézanne dies in Aix (October 23rd) in his apartment on Boulegon Street.
1907: The Autumn Gallery devotes a posthumous retrospective to Cézanne where 56 works of the artist are presented.