October 5, 2022

Ca alors, is that basically Paul Cezanne? The post-impressionist painter is standing subsequent to the Fontaine de la Rotonde together with his hat and strolling stick, easel strapped to his again.

Someway the life-size bronze statue of Aix-en-Provence’s favorite son appears puzzled concerning the consideration he’s attracting.

Subsequent month, Cezanne is coming to London’s Tate Trendy in a ‘once-in-a-generation, career-spanning retrospective’ of his life and work. I’ve made the reverse journey. In Cezanne’s sun-drenched, easy-going birthplace in southern France and the encircling areas which impressed him, I’ll strive to determine what all of the fuss is about.

Charming: Martin Symington explores Aix-en-Provence, pictured, in southern France, the ‘sun-drenched, easy-going’ birthplace of the artist Paul Cezanne

A bronze statue of the post-impressionist painter in Aix-en-Provence, a place that 'lives and breathes' Cezanne, according to Martin

Cezanne’s work Still Life With Fruit Dish. London’s Tate Modern is hosting a retrospective of the artist's work next month

Left is a bronze statue of the post-impressionist painter in Aix-en-Provence, a spot that ‘lives and breathes’ Cezanne, in keeping with Martin. Pictured proper is Cezanne’s work Nonetheless Life With Fruit Dish. London’s Tate Trendy is internet hosting a retrospective of the artist’s work subsequent month

Cezanne lived and breathed Aix. To get an thought of its magnificence and historical past, assume Bathtub or Oxford. ‘While you’re born there, nothing else is nice sufficient,’ is how the artist put it.

A Cezanne-themed strolling path marked with brass studs weaves by town, taking me to websites similar to the home on Rue de l’Opera the place the artist was born in 1839; the varsity the place he and the author Emile Zola grew to become lifelong buddies; and Les Deux Garcons brasserie, the place the pair would shoot the breeze.

The path meanders into the medieval Mazarin quarter, which I like, with its shady squares and fountains effervescent in cool courtyards.

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Slim streets spill instantly on to Cours Mirabeau, the aristocratic avenue edged with terrace cafes good for sipping a glass of chilled Provencal rosé.

The stroll ends at Atelier de Cezanne, his ethereal studio on Lauves Hill, which has been left just about because it was; canvasses and oils, baskets of ripe crimson apples, whiffs of linseed and a paint-splattered ladder. I sense the artist’s aura. Maybe he has simply popped out to smoke a pipe?

The subsequent morning I make my option to the Terrain des Peintres viewpoint, now a public park, simply exterior Aix, the place Cezanne would sit dealing with Montagne Sainte-Victoire.

Above is Atelier de Cezanne, the artist's airy studio, which 'has been left pretty much as it was; canvasses and oils, baskets of ripe red apples, whiffs of linseed and a paint-splattered ladder'

Above is Atelier de Cezanne, the artist’s ethereal studio, which ‘has been left just about because it was; canvasses and oils, baskets of ripe crimson apples, whiffs of linseed and a paint-splattered ladder’

That is the majestic mountain which he painted compulsively — greater than 80 oils and watercolours. The topic often is the similar however the work contain a panoply of angles, lights and shades, grey-blues, ochres and swimming pools of inexperienced.

A number of are within the Tate exhibition, which has been curated to chronicle his drift in direction of extra summary works.

Driving alongside the Arc River, I see for myself how Sainte-Victoire exerts its presence over Aix and its environs. I observe the twisting highway (these days often called Route Cezanne, inevitably) he would have travelled a thousand instances together with his horse and cart in the hunt for one other temper of the mountain to seize.

Martin visits the Terrain des Peintres viewpoint (pictured), now a public park, just outside Aix, where Cezanne would sit to take in views of Montagne Sainte-Victoire

Martin visits the Terrain des Peintres viewpoint (pictured), now a public park, simply exterior Aix, the place Cezanne would sit to soak up views of Montagne Sainte-Victoire


Kirker Holidays (kirkerholidays.com) presents three nights B&B at Resort Le Pigonnet from £669 pp, together with flights and transfers. Guided excursions by secretsdici.fr. The EY Exhibition: Cezanne will run on the Tate Trendy in London from October 5 to March 12, 2023 (tickets £22, tate.org.uk).

Time to unearth the mysteries of Carrieres de Bibemus, a jumble of sandstone quarries 5 km east of Aix and one other Cezanne obsession. 

Entry is restricted to guided teams, so with native knowledgeable Arthur Carlier I plunge into this orangey rockscape tangled with darkish undergrowth and scented with pine resin. We pause at viewing platforms displaying reproductions of works within the locations the place Cezanne painted them.

‘Between 1895 and 1899, Cezanne roughly lived amongst these lower rocks, experimenting with new strategies,’ says Arthur. Later, Picasso would turn into captivated by the mould-breaking strategies he developed right here. Picasso referred to him as ‘the daddy of us all’.

Again in Aix, I view town’s attractive golden constructions in a brand new mild, having learnt that these had been constructed, over the centuries, from stone quarried at Bibemus.

What I don’t discover in his house city is way of Cezanne’s unique work. True, a handful hold within the Musee Granet deep within the Mazarin quarter, however no one is pretending that these are masterpieces.

It is because Cezanne died barely acknowledged. Aix excessive society had taken towards him; the museum’s curator swore that no work by the native madman would hold there on his watch. Which is probably why the person who lived and breathed Aix has been sculpted to look puzzled, as he stands by Fontaine de la Rotonde.

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Now that he has taken his place among the many all-time greats, nevertheless, it’s Aix-en-Provence that lives and breathes Cezanne.