by Scholes, Robert
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Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906)
He was born at Aix-en-Provençe in the south of France, where his father was a hatter, and later, a banker. He went to local schools, where he met Émile Zola and became his friend. He took courses in art at the Municipal Museum in Aix. His mother encouraged his drawing and painting, but his father opposed it, wanting a more respectable career for his son, who dutifully began to study for law at Aix. By 1861, however, it had become apparent that young Paul was not cut out to be a lawyer, and his father allowed him to follow his friend Zola to Paris, where he would study art. In 1862, however, his father dragged him home to start working in what was now the family bank. The work did not go well, and he was soon back in Paris, studying again at the Académie Suisse, an easy-going school on the left bank. At this time he began to meet the impressionist painters, and he tried and failed to be admitted to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He was a long time getting any kind of recognition or success.
Now, of course, he is recognized as the painter who did the most to open the way from impressionism to post-impressionism and cubism, but his paintings were still being abused by most critics until the day of his death. His work was championed in England by Roger Fry and his Bloomsbury friends and in France by the gallery owner, Ambroise Vollard and his fellow painters, especially the young ones—Picasso among them.