While studying law in Aix-en-Provence where he was born, Paul Cézanne enrolled at the municipal art school. In 1862, he abandoned his law studies and joined his friend Émile Zola (1840-1902) in Paris. He copied the old paintings in the Musée du Louvre and the contemporary paintings in the Musée du Luxembourg where he discovered the art of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). In 1872, he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise where he painted with Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) and took part in the first exhibition of the Impressionist group in Paris in 1874.
Cézanne divided his time between Paris and Provence. He abandoned Impressionism but continued to work outdoors and to use coloured shadows. Around 1890 - 1895, his painting took a new direction with a radical change in style and technique. He began giving strong outlines to objects, and just hinting at spatial depth.
In 1895, his first exhibition at the gallery of Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939) brought him to the public’s attention. At that time, young painters revered him as the precursor to modern painting because of his sense of volume and the importance he gave to the geometric structure. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was to say “he is the father of us all”. His oeuvre mainly comprises still lifes and the landscapes of Provence. He also left portraits and representations of women bathing.
The majority of Cézanne’s paintings now in the Musée de l’Orangerie were bought by Domenica Walter (1898-1977).