Paul Cézanne

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Paul Cezanne

Paul Cézanne was born on 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, in Provence in south of France. His father was a successful banker and his father wished him to pursue a ‘respectable’ career. To please his father, between 1859 and 1861 Paul Cezanne attended the law school of the University of Aix. However, in 1861, he became disillusioned with this career path and dropped out to pursue his life’s passion – art.

With the encouragement of his great friend Emil Zola, Paul left for Paris and sought to further his artistic career.In Paris, he met the Impressionist artist, Camille Pissaro. Pissaro acted as Master to the young Paul. However, over time, the student became as respected as the Master.In 1870, the Franco-Prussian war broke out and Paul Cezanne fled with his mistress to Marseille. He was caught as a draft dodger, but, soon after, the war fortunately ended.His final years of his life from 1878-1905 were spent in Provence. It was here that he increasingly developed the style of his paintings and moved beyond a classic impressionist style. He used planes and blocks of colour to give a more abstracted observation of nature. It was this abstract innovation that was said to be a key element in the link between the 19th Century impressionist art and the modern art of Matisse and Picasso of the Twentieth Century.

The Basket of Apples

Paul Cézanne once claimed that art is a harmony running parallel to natureand not an imitation of nature. In his quest for underlying structure and composition, he recognized that the artist is not bound to represent real objects in real space. Thus, The Basket of Apples contains one of his signature tilted tables, an impossible rectangle with no right angles. On it, a basket of apples pitches forward from a slablike base, seemingly balanced by the bottle and the tablecloth’s thick, sculptural folds. The heavy modelling, solid brushstrokes, and glowing colours give the composition a density and dynamism that a more realistic still life could never possess.

This painting, one of Cézanne’s rare signed works, was part of an important exhibition urged on the artist by the Parisian art dealer AmbroiseVollard in 1895. Since Cézanne had spent the majority of his career painting in isolation in his native Provence, this was the first opportunity in nearly twenty years for the public to see the work of the artist who is now hailed as the father of modern painting.


  • Calamares a la Provencal

Serves 4


1kg/2.2lb Baby Squid

1 Onion, finely chopped

2 Garlic Cloves

275g/10oz Tomatoes, cut into eighths

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Bouquet Garni

1 tbsp Tomato Purée

Salt and Black Pepper

300ml/10fl.oz. Dry White Wine

300ml/10fl.oz. Water

1 tbspFreshly chopped Parsley

1 tbspFreshly chopped Basil


  1. Prepare the squid by gripping the body with one hand and the head and tentacles with the other. Pull apart firmly. Cut the tentacles away from the head. Discard the head, entrails and ink sac and wash the bodies and tentacles thoroughly, both inside and out, in cold running water, dry on kitchen paper and cut into long thin strips.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and squid and sauté until lightly browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes, bouquet garni, whole cloves, tomato purée, salt and pepper, cover and simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove the bouquet garni and garlic cloves and discard and transfer the squid pieces to a heated serving dish. Keep warm.
  5. Reduce the cooking liquor by boiling rapidly if it seems too liquid. It should be a medium thickness.
  6. To serve – pour the sauce over the squid and sprinkle with the chopped basil and parsley. Serve very hot.
  • Onion Soup with Wine

Serves 4


3 large Onions, sliced

50g/2oz Butter

1 tbsp Plain Flour

1/2 teasp Brown Sugar

1.2L/2pts Water

8 thick slices from a French Stick

4 tbsp Dry White Wine

Salt and Pepper

50g/2oz Gruyere Cheese


  1. Melt half the butter in a pan and fry gently the onions until transparent. Sprinkle with the flour and cook until it begins to brown. Add the sugar and mix well.
  2. Add the water little by little then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 230C, 450F, Gas mark 8.
  4. Fry the bread in the remaining butter then place the slices in the bottom of a large ovenproof soup tureen.
  5. Add the wine, salt and pepper to the soup then pour over the bread. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere and cook in oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.


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