Paul Cezanne was born in Aix-en-Provence, France in 1839. As a child, Cezanne enjoyed a comfortable life style in an upper-middle class family. While in school, Cezanne became close friends with Emile Zola. The two boys became inseparable and were known for their literary skills of the classics; surprisingly, Cezanne was not known for his artistic skills.
Upon entering college, Cezanne's father convinced him to attend law school, which Cezanne soon dropped out of and enrolled in the private school of Academie Sass. There, he met Renior, Pissarro, Sisley, and Manet. During his stay at the Academie Suisse, Delacroix's palette of purple, blues, and greens became a major influence on Cezanne's work. Also, his early works appeared full of nudes and orgies. The violence and sexual themes were played up with erratic brush strokes and distorted bodies.
Cezanne then left the Academie to flee from the Franco-Prussian War draft. Around the 1870's he became friends with Pissarro, from whom Cezanne picked up the Impressionistic brush stroke style. After a few failed public exhibitions with Pissarro and other Impressionists, Cezanne diverged from the group in favor of painting landscapes, rather than the bustling city life. Cezanne also shifted his ideas, believing that composition should be more structured instead of painting "in the moment" like the Impressionists.
Spending most of his time between L'Estaque, Paris, and Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne's landscapes became increasingly abstract as he merged picture planes and skewed points of view of his still-life. Also during his largely unsuccessful career, after 17 years and a 14 year old son, Cezanne managed to marry his love, Hortense.
Not until the last decade of his life did he get positive recognition of his work from critics as well as the Impressionists. Cezanne had his first one-man show in 1895, organized by the art dealer Ambroise Vollard. From that show and on, Cezanne gained increased respect and popularity. He died in 1906, but shortly after his death retrospectives of his work were shown in Paris, which cemented Cezanne as an important artist of the times as well as a major influence to future Cubists.