image: Cezanne in Provence image: National Gallery of Art image: Cezanne in Provence

Cezanne outside his studio at Les Lauves, photographed by Gertrude Osthaus on April 13, 1906, Photo credit: Foto Marburg/Art Resource, NY
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I was born here; I will die here.
Cézanne, as recorded by a visitor, 1902

Provence nurtured the life and art of Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) like no other place. In the distinctive countryside around his native Aix-en-Provence, the pays d'Aix, he found the motifs, rich in natural beauty but also in emotive associations, that have since become synonymous with his art. Cézanne created some of his most compelling images in the solitude of Provence. They include not only landscapes painted outdoors but also portraits, still lifes, and imaginary scenes of bathers that he executed in the studios he occupied in and around Aix.

The Master of Aix, as Cézanne came to be known during his lifetime, drew on his birthplace for the inspiration that set him on his path as an artist. Throughout the sometimes arduous progression of his career, Provence—more specifically the countryside around Aix—remained a constant source of strength in his struggle to master the means of his artistic expression. Other artists had come to paint the Provençal landscape before him, but Cézanne made this corner of Provence uniquely his own, adopting motifs and views that convey a powerful sense of place.

«Exhibition Information | Motif: Early Years in Aix and Paris»

This exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund.

Web feature was written by Margaret Doyle, assistant curator, department of exhibitions programs, and Philip Conisbee, senior curator of European painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington.