For Picasso he was ‘like our father’; for Matisse, ‘a god of painting’. Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) is widely regarded as the father of modern art. In this authoritative and accessible study, Richard Verdi traces the evolution of Cézanne’s landscape, still-life and figure compositions, from the turbulently romantic creations of his youth to the visionary masterpieces of his final years. The painter’s biography – his fluctuating reputation and strained relations with his parents, wife and close friend Emile Zola – is vividly evoked using excerpts from his own letters and from contemporary accounts of the artist.
Cézanne was torn between the desires to create art and to seek inspiration – to master the themes of the past, through his copying sessions in the Louvre, and to explore the eternal qualities of nature in the countryside of his native Provence. In this way the artist sought ‘to make of Impressionism something solid and durable, like the art of the museums’. In this richly illustrated overview Verdi explores the strength, vitality and magnitude of Cézanne’s achievement.