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Paul Cezanne Famous Artworks that You Should Know

Paul Cézanne (1836-1906) was a French Post-Impressionism artist who is today most famous for his landscapes of his home town Aix-en-Provence and the seaside village of Estaque. In addition, some of his still life paintings and depictions of locals playing cards and smoking pipes are iconic.

The art world and critics were unenthusiastic towards Cezanne’s paintings and he barely sold any artworks during his lifetime. It was only after his death and around the 1890s, that the art world rediscovered Paul Cezanne’s artworks and started appreciating his greatness.

Today, Cezanne is hailed as one of the most influential painters in the history of modern art. His art, inspired later generation of artists, and especially the later artists of Cubism and Fauvism. Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were so influenced by Cezanne’s artworks that they both said that Cezanne was “Father to us all.” 

Below are five Cezanne artworks that you should know!

1. The Pool at Jas de Bouffan (1876)

The Pool at Jas de Bouffan  - Famous artworks of Paul Cezanne
The Pool at Jas de Bouffan [Wikimedia Commons]
Famous artworks of Paul Cezanne

During the 1870s, Paul Cezanne divided his time between Paris and his hometown, Aix-en- Provence. He was very close to the older Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, who strongly influenced Cezanne’s style. Like Pissarro, he started using warmer colors and painting en plein air (outdoors).

The Pool at Jas de Bouffan depicts the family home of the Cezanne family in Aix-en-Provence. The particular style of this painting, shows the impressionism influence of Pissarro. Paul Cezanne loved this grand house and it’s beautiful gardens and had a painting studio inside the house. Cezanne painted the house and its gardens many times during his artistic career.

This painting is hanging in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

2. Mont Saint-Victoire Series

Mont Saint-Victoire is a majestic mountain not far from Aix-en-Provence. Its grandeur is visible practically from every spot in Aix. Paul Cezanne felt in awe of this white, rugged limestone mountain. It fascinated him how the colors of the mountain changed in different seasons and at various times of the day.

Just as Claude Monet loved painting his water lily pond over and over again, Paul Cezanne immortalized Mont Sainte Victoire onto his canvases more than 80 times and over many years. He painted the mountain from different view points, at different times of the day and under various weather conditions. There is a story that says that Cezanne was so obsessed with this mountain that he even painted it during a massive winter storm. He afterwards contracted pneumonia!!

In his paintings of the mountain, Cezanne used mostly using oil paints, but sometimes watercolors too. He painted with different hues of colors in order to capture the atmosphere, the changing seasons and different light effects and seasonal fauna colors on the white limestone mountain and its surroundings.

On some canvases, Paul Cezanne painted in an impressionistic-like style using softer, muted colors. Other times he painted the mountain view using geometric forms and bolder colors, laying the foundation to the later cubism art movement.

You can find Paul Cezanne’s Mont Saint-Victoire paintings in art museums all over the world, such as Princeton University Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, The Pushkin State Museum (has two) & Musee D’Orsay, to mention a few.

3. The Card Players Artworks of Paul Cezanne

Card Players - Famous artworks of Paul Cezanne
Card Players Artworks of Paul Cezanne

The Card Players paintings belongs to a series of five paintings that Paul Cezanne painted in the early 1890s. The different paintings differ in size, the number of people playing cards and also the setting in which the game takes place.

The models for the Card Players paintings (and many other of his paintings) were local peasants, some of whom worked on the estate of the Cézanne family (the Jas de Bouffan). Each painting portrays the quiet, concentration of the card players. The men are looking down at their cards & some are smoking pipes. Some art critics have described these paintings as “human still life”.

Card Players by Paul Cezanne
Card Players Artworks of Paul Cezanne

Ironically, Cezanne was not successful in his lifetime and these paintings received little attention. It was only after his death that the art world started recognizing the greatness of his paintings.

In 2011, the Royal Family of Qatar bought one of the Card Players paintings. They paid an astounding price of $250 million. This was then the highest price ever paid for a painting (and not surpassed until November 2017).

The Card Player paintings are hanging in the walls of the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the  Courtauld Institute of Art in London. The fifth painting is in the private collection of the Qatar Royal family.

4. The Bathers

The BBC series included Paul Cezanne’s “The Bathers” in a list of the greatest one hundred paintings ever made. This particular painting is also referred to as “Large Bathers” or “Big Bathers” as Cezanne painted smaller versions of the Bathers. The Philadelphia Museum of Art bought this painting in 1983 for the price of $100,000, where it is still hanging today.

This painting had a huge influence on later artists such as Picasso, whose later piece Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon, was inspired by this Paul Cézanne painting.

Paul Cezanne - The Bathers
Paul Cezanne – The Bathers

5. The Three Skulls

Paul Cezanne painted seven canvases that featured skulls. These skull paintings were done between 1897 and the artist’s death in 1906.

Cezanne started making still life skull paintings after the death of his mother, who was a significant and supportive family member in his life. He became clearly very depressed and started obsessing about his own mortality. We know this from a few letters he wrote to his friends, mentioning his thoughts of death and mortality “For me, life has begun to be deathly monotonous”; “As for me, I’m old. I won’t have time to express myself”; and “I might as well be dead.” His health also started deteriorating at the same time. 

During these years, Cezanne was quite reclusive and felt that his own life was monotonous and meaningless. Some art experts believe that his dark and depressive state of mind inspired these paintings. He painted seven skull still life paintings of skulls. The Three Skulls is hanging on the walls of Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Three Skulls - Famous artworks by Paul Cezanne
The Three Skulls – Famous artworks by Paul Cezanne

The other famous Skull paintings can be found in the Kunsthaus in Zurich, The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Art Institute of Chicago. Private collectors bought the other two.

Pyramid of Skulls by Paul Cezanne
Paul Cezanne artwork entitled: Pyramid of Skulls
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