Happy Birthday to Paul Cézanne, Cranky Genius

Artsy Editorial
Jan 19, 2013 10:45PM

Paul Cézanne, referred to by Picasso as "the father of us all" and by Matisse as "a kind of benevolent god of painting," was not quite as tender-hearted as these monikers would suggest. Well-known as Cézanne is for the influence his seminal paintings would have over later generations of modernist painters, he was equally infamous for his temper and pugnacity. "Convincing Cézanne of something is like persuading the towers of Notre Dame to execute a quadrille," wrote his close friend, the writer Émile Zola. His student, painter Émile Bernard, claimed that although Cézanne was "an excellent man," he was also "distrustful...misanthropic...cranky and strange." Meanwhile, Cézanne, who once threw a rock through an in-progress painting of his favored subject, Mont-Sainte-Victoire, merely claimed, "I have very strong sensations."

Artsy Editorial
Get the Artsy app
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019