“Paul may have the genius of a great painter, but he will never possess the genius actually to become one. He despairs at even the smallest obstacle.”
That’s what Cezanne’s childhood buddy Emile Zola said about him.
Cezanne was sorta slouching toward law school back in Aix like his dad wanted him too. Zola was having none of it:
Is painting only a whim that took possession of you when you were bored one fine day? Is it only a pastime, a subject of conversation, a pretext for not working at law? If this is the case, then I understand your conduct; you are right not to force the issue and make more trouble with your family. But if painting is your vocation – and that is how I have always envisaged it – if you feel capable of achieving something after having worked well at it, then you are an enigma to me, a sphinx, someone indescribably impossible and obscure… Shall I tell you something? But do not get angry: you lack strength of character. You shy away from any form of effort, mental or practical. Your paramount principle is to live and let live and to surrender to the vagaries of time and chance… Either one or the other – either become a proper lawyer, or become a serious painter, but do not become an undecided creature in a paint-splattered robe.
Shall I tell you something? But do not get angry. That’s terrific, Zola.
Cezanne got it together eventually. Maybe he was inspired by his buddy Achille Emperaire:
Achille was a dwarf and a hunchback, also from Aix. But he had the stones to go to Paris and hack away at painting. Wikipedia:
Adamant to make the grade, [Achille] would ask for help anywhere, undaunted by the prospect of living in the streets. He even wrote in his letters, ‘When occasionally I can spend 80 centimes on a meal, it feels like an orgy. […] The rest of the time, to skip a meal, I quell my hunger by eating bread crumbs with wine and sugar.’. Also, ‘Paris is a massive tomb, an unquestionable and awful mirage for most people. While a few get along, most of us fail, believe me.’
Getting those Zola quotes from this book I bought at the Taschen store for $9.99.
Thanks for the good work, Ulrike Becks-Malorny!
We came to El Greco’s green “View of Toledo” and stood looking at it a long time. “This is the best picture in the Museum for me, and Christ knows there are some lovely ones,” Hemingway said.
After we reached the Cezannes and Degases and the other Impressionists, Hemingway became more and more excited, and discoursed on what each artist could do and how and what he had learned from each. Patrick listened respectfully and didn’t seem to want to talk about painting techniques any more. Hemingway spent several minutes looking at Cezanne’s “Rocks – Forest of Fontainebleu.” “This is what we try to do in writing, this and this, and the woods, and the rocks we have to climb over,” he said. “Cezanne is my painter, after the early painters. Wonder, wonder painter…
As we walked along, Hemingway said to me, “I can make a landscape like Mr. Paul Cezanne. I learned how to make a landscape from Mr. Paul Cezanne by walking through the Luxembourg Museum a thousand times with an empty gut, and I am pretty sure that if Mr. Paul was around, he would like the way I make them and be happy that I learned it from him.”
Wiki, close out Cezanne for us:
One day, Cézanne was caught in a storm while working in the field. Only after working for two hours under a downpour did he decide to go home; but on the way he collapsed. He was taken home by a passing driver. His old housekeeper rubbed his arms and legs to restore the circulation; as a result, he regained consciousness. On the following day, he intended to continue working, but later on he fainted; the model with whom he was working called for help; he was put to bed, and he never left it again. He died a few days later, on 22nd October 1906. He died of pneumonia and was buried at the old cemetery in his beloved hometown of Aix-en-Provence.