Paul Trachtman in Smithsonian Magazine:
Paul Cézanne wanted to make paint bleed. The old masters, he told the poet Joachim Gasquet, painted warmblooded flesh and made sap run in their trees, and he would too. He wanted to capture “the green odor” of his Provence fields and “the perfume of marble from Saint-Victoire,” the mountain that was the subject of so many of his paintings. He was bold, scraping and slapping paint onto his still lifes with a palette knife. “I will astonish Paris with an apple, ” he boasted.
In the years when his friends Manet, Monet, Pissarro and Renoir were finally gaining acceptance, Cézanne worked mostly in isolation, ridiculed by critics and mocked by the public, sometimes ripping up his own canvases. He wanted more than the quick impressions of the Impressionists (nature, he wrote to a fellow artist, “is more depth than surface”) and devoted himself to studying the natural world. “It’s awful for me,” he told a young friend, “my eyes stay riveted to the tree trunk, to the clod of earth. It’s painful for me to tear them away.” He could often be found, according to one contemporary, “on the outskirts of Paris wandering about the hillsides in jackboots. As no one took the least interest in his pictures, he left them in the fields.”