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He was born on January 19, 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, southern France. Son of a wealthy banker, he met in his childhood Émile Zola. At the end of the fifties he decided to devote himself to painting, although he began law studies to please his father.
In 1862 he started his art studies in Paris. Attend the Académie Suisse to practice drawing. There he meets Guillaumin. His first works were made with thick pigments and dark shades. He developed a hard, dense, thick pictorial style with strong brushstrokes, which takes as a model the Italian Caravaggio and the Spanish Diego Velázquez. The most significant influence at the beginning was that of Camille Pissarro, who introduced him to the new impressionist technique to achieve the effects of natural light. Under the tutelage of Pissarro, in the period between 1872 and 1873, he went from dark tones to bright colors and began to concentrate on scenes of rural life.
The impressionists accepted him into the group and exhibited with them in 1874 and 1877. His great contribution to painting was made after the dissolution of the impressionist group, when he drifted towards a more intellectualized painting. During the 1880s he spent much of his time in his native Aix-en-Provence.
In 1886 he thought he saw references to his failures in a Zola novel and broke off his relationship with him. That same year he inherited his father’s fortune and achieved economic independence, although he remained in his social isolation. He continued to paint directly from nature with bright impressionist-type coloring, and gradually simplified the application of the painting. He lamented his failure to represent the human figure and, indeed, the great works with human figures of his later years, such as Bathers (c.1999-c.1906, Museum of Art, Philadelphia), reveal curious distortions.
In the year 1895 Ambroise Vollard, a Parisian art dealer, organized an exhibition of his works and promoted them with great success during the following years. By 1904, he achieved consecration in one of the great official halls of painting.
Many young painters traveled to Aix-en-Provence to see him work and ask for advice in his later years. Before his death, which took place on October 22, 1906 in Aix, Paul Cézanne had already achieved considerable prestige.
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