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A giant steps through Aix

A giant steps through Aix

26 Nov 2013 BY Tim Wells

The great post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1839, the son of a prosperous banker. His early years were spent torn between his beloved artistic studies and trying to pursue a “respectable” career in law. It was never going to work, and in 1861 he left for Paris for the first of many journeys he would make throughout his life in search of inspiration for his painting and recognition from the Salon. In the early 1880s, however, Cézanne finally returned to his roots, settling in Aix for good. Like the points on the compass, the routes he frequented radiate in all directions from the heart of Aix, and his steps can be traced and his favourite vistas seen anew. At Jas de Bouffan, the family home, Cézanne worked in an attic studio built by his father, and executed a number of large paintings directly onto the drawing room walls. On the other side of Aix, Cézanne set up his easel in the middle of the geometrical jumble of red stone in the abandoned Bibémus quarry, with Mont Ste-Victoire in the background, a subject he would paint many times; and the quarry and the small hut from which he worked can be visited. Cézanne spent the last years of his life working in the countryside atelier he bought and renovated at Les Lauves, surrounded by the objects he would make famous in his final beautiful canvasses.

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