Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), the son of a banker in Aix-en-Provence, studied law before devoting himself to painting. He arrived in Paris in 1861 to study at the Académie Suisse, and became involved, with his childhood friend and writer Émile Zola, in the creative revolution directed at the conservative art world. He participated in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1874 and 1877, but withdrew from the Paris art scene after receiving negative responses to his work in the latter exhibition. After this, he spent most of his time in Aix, where he pursued his interest in composition in preference to naturalistic representation. Although no longer residing in Paris, he often returned to the city or the countryside of the Île de France during summer.
Fruits, Napkin and Milk Can, c.1880
Oil on canvas. 60.0 x 73.0cm
Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris
This still life broke new ground in its unconventional treatment of pictorial construction. The chest lid, for example, is tilted towards the viewer rather than being set at a ninety-degree angle to the wall, and the objects depicted seem to be on top of, instead of behind, each other. By intentionally breaking the traditional rules of perspective, Cézanne’s paintings provided one of the major inspirations for Cubism