January 25th, 2013
Armchair Traveler: Cézanne and Aix-en-Provence
“When I was in Aix, I thought I would be better off elsewhere. Now that I’m here, I miss Aix… when you’re born there, that’s it, nothing else appeals.”
The urban haunts of Paris may have provided the grounds for Impressionism’s rise, but Paul Cézanne’s life began (and ended) in the southern, Roman city of Aix-en-Provence. Born the illegitimate son of a hat merchant, Cézanne formed an early bond with the Provençal landscape. At the age of 13 he entered the College Bourbon, where he met Émile Zola, the future writer and champion of the Impressionists, and Jean-Baptiste Baille, who went on to become an astronomer and professor at the École Polytechnique. Collectively they became known as les trois inseparables (the three inseparables).
Aix-en-Provence is a small, classically Provençal town. Three universities and several French-language schools for international students produce a very strong student presence. The city center is mostly pedestrian and offers hours of nice walks. As in all Provençal towns, the city center consists of narrow streets, lined with interesting buildings from 17th century hotels to paved plazas.
Discover Aix through Cézanne’s steps and check out Museyon’s photographic tour of Aix-en-Provence.
Here are some photos of Cézanne’s Aix.
By the turn of the century, Cézanne was living alone and had cut his wife out of his will. His work was shown at the 1905 Salon d’Automne, but it proved to be his last exhibition. Cézanne collapsed while working outside one rainy day and his condition deteriorated over the course of a week. His estranged wife and son rushed from Paris, but it was too late. On October 23, 1906 the “Master of Aix” died.
To learn more about Paul Cézanne’s life and paintings, pick up a copy of Art+Paris Impressionists from Museyon Guides.
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