Paintings by Paul Cezanne


Paul Cézanne was one of the original Impressionists, though unlike contemporaries such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Cézanne largely ignored settings of urban life in favor of landscapes and still life. Indeed, after the third Impressionist exhibition he would move away to Aix-en-Provence to work in isolation, never exhibiting with the Impressionists again.

Paul Cézanne's deep desire to pursue his independent vision prompted him to move away from Paris and withhold his works from the Impressionist exhibitions. However, he maintained a strong relationship with many of the core members, who always welcomed his support and his opinions.

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Cézanne never rejected his public identity as an Impressionist, but from the outset he had pursued a different path. Rather than capture the fleeting sensations of nature, Paul Cézanne sought to develop a pictorial language that would parallel nature's underlying structural order. In his late career he limited his work to a select range of motifs: still life, the landscapes that surrounded his home in Aix-en-Provence, and a few figure compositions. Despite his isolation, however, Paul Cézanne's name will forever be linked with the Impressionists.

Follow the links below to learn more about some of the most famous works by Paul Cézanne, the independent Impressionist.

  • The House of the Hanged Man: Cézanne's The House of the Hanged Man showed Cézanne's different approach from other Impressionists such as Claude Monet. Learn about The House of the Hanged Man by Paul Cézanne.
  • Study: Landscape at Auvers: Study: Landscape at Auvers earned Paul Cézanne the most critical praise at the Impressionists first exhibition. Learn about Cézanne's 1873 painting Study: Landscape at Auvers.
  • L'Estaque: View of the Bay of Marseilles: A visit to his mother led to Paul Cézanne painting L'Estaque: View of the Bay of Marseilles. Find out about this famous painting by Paul Cézanne.
  • The Card Players: One of Paul Cézanne's favorite themes was men playing cards in a café. Read about The Card Players by Paul Cézanne, one of several variations on a scene.
  • Landscape Near Aix, the Plain of the Arc River: Landscape near Aix, the Plain of the Arc River is another example of Paul Cézanne's independent style. Learn about Cézanne's 1892-1895 painting.

On the next page we'll look more closely at Paul Cézanne's Impressionist painting The House of the Hanged Man.For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

The House of the Hanged Man by Paul Cezanne

Paul Cézanne on canvas, d'Orsay in Paris.
Paul Cézanne on canvas, d'Orsay in Paris.

Paul Cézanne's painting The House of the Hanged Man was completed in 1873. The title of this painting served only as a pretext for Cézanne's landscape. He applied his paint with a heavy hand and worked the surface with a palette knife. The resulting impasto (the thick paint application) and Paul Cézanne's rigorously constructed composition in The House of the Hanged Man marked a difference from the landscape approach of Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot that quickly characterized the Impressionist circle.

Paul Cézanne's ferocious independence led to his only participating in two Impressionist exhibitions. Next, we'll see a painting that earned him great praise at the group's first show.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Study: Landscape at Auvers by Paul Cezanne

Paul Cézanne's Study: Landscape at Auvers (oil on canvas, Philadelphia
Paul Cézanne's Study: Landscape at Auvers (oil on canvas, Philadelphia

Paul Cézanne's 1873 painting Study: Landscape at Auvers earned the warmest reception of the three works that represented Cézanne at the first Impressionist exhibition. The critic Jean Prouvaire questioned the Salon jury's rejection of Cézanne, and critic Émile Zola exalted Cézanne. Shedding the dark palette of his earlier works, Cézanne was beginning to be attentive to the structure, rather than the appearance, of his subjects; in Study: Landscape at Auvers Cézanne was starting to move away from the spontaneous imagery that critics linked with Impressionism.

For another example of Paul Cézanne's unique approach to his art, go to the next page.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

L'Estaque: View of the Bay of Marseilles by Paul Cezanne

L'Estaque: View of the Bay of Marseilles by Paul Cezanne housed at the
L'Estaque: View of the Bay of Marseilles by Paul Cezanne housed at the

L'Estaque: View of the Bay of Marseilles by Paul Cézanne was completed between 1878 and 1879, and depicts L'Estaque, a small coastal village on the Mediterranean to the west of Marseilles. Cézanne's mother owned a house there, and the painter visited several times to paint views of the bay. Cézanne deliberately flattened the planes of the panoramic landscape in L'Estaque: View of the Bay of Marseilles; noting that the blinding illumination of the sun reduced all forms to silhouettes, Cézanne presented the features of the view as simple forms.

Like all artists, Paul Cézanne found himself returning to certain scenes and images. On the next page we'll examine a painting that shares its subject with several others that Cézanne completed over the years.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

The Card Players by Paul Cezanne

The Card Players by Paul Cézanne 18-3/4x22-1/2 in Paris.
The Card Players by Paul Cézanne 18-3/4x22-1/2 in Paris.

Paul Cézanne's The Card Players, painted between 1890 and 1892, is one of at least five variations of men playing cards in a café. In this version, the bottle on the table, with its gleaming white highlight, divides the composition in two, calling attention to the light and dark tonalities of the dress of the two figures. The Card Players by Paul Cézanne is not so much a portrait of the two men as it is an exploration of the potential nuance of volume and color.

Ultimately, Paul Cézanne would break away from the Impressionists, charting his own course. Read on to learn about a painting from later in Paul Cézanne's career.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Landscape near Aix, the Plain of the Arc River by Paul Cezanne

Landscape Near Aix, the Plain of the Arc River by Paul seen at
Landscape Near Aix, the Plain of the Arc River by Paul seen at

Paul Cézanne's Landscape Near Aix, the Plain of the Arc River, was painted between 1892 and 1895, after the final Impressionist exhibition. However, Cézanne participated in only two Impressionist exhibitions, the first in 1874 and the third in 1877.

Fiercely independent, Cézanne followed his own path, seeking to turn his observations of nature into a painted structure of squarely brushed color and interlocking planes and volumes, as evidenced in Landscape Near Aix, the Plain of the Arc River. Paul Cézanne believed that painting reflected the interaction of the eye and the mind, the former taking in the image of nature and the latter translating it into color and form that suggest rather than mirror the perceptions of the surrounding world.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American paintings. She is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.