The Letters of Paul Cézanne

Spalding_12_13Frances Spalding at Literary Review:

As the letters proceed, the reader is drawn again into the central drama of Cézanne's life: his tenacious pursuit of his ideas about painting. Even his slight sketches have a remarkable hold on our attention and convey a sense, not of realism, which Zola advised him to abjure, but of the real. He was afflicted with hesitations and uncertainty, and required much persuasion from Zola before he left Aix for Paris. Once there he immediately wanted to return, but stayed five months. It took another year at home before he returned to Paris, in 1862, this time staying for almost two years. Back with his family in 1866, he wrote to Camille Pissarro, 'I'm here in the bosom of my family, with the foulest people on earth, those who make up family, excruciatingly annoying.' No wonder he began to insist on his need to be elsewhere. No wonder that Zola complained, 'Convincing Cézanne of something is like persuading the towers of Notre Dame to execute a quadrille.'

He was becoming a thinker-painter.

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