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Cézanne is undoubtedly one of the most important painters of the late 19th century. His work is exuberant and intense; his style impetuous, his rhythm lively and his paint thick. Though he never showed any interest in the graphic media, he completed prints at the urging of others. It took all the insistence of his friends Pissarro, Guillaumin and Dr. Gachet for him to produce his five etchings. Later it took all the pressure that his dealer Ambrose Vollard could exert to get him to do three lithographs, two in color, one in black and white. He was too much absorbed in painting to give any thought to prints. Pissarro had invited Cézanne and Guillaumin to stay with him at Pontoise and had introduced them to Dr. Gachet. The latter, a keen amateur etcher, prevailed on all the artists who came to see him to try their hand at etching; he even prepared the copper plates for them, supervised the biting and pulled the proofs on his own press. Unlike most Impressionists, he cared just as much for drawing and composition as for painting, and for the solidity and permanence of forms, as he did for tone and color. He felt the two aspects of painting were inseparable and should not be dissociated. He said, “When color attains its full brilliance and richness, then form reaches its fullness too.”
Cézanne conceived of art-and particularly his own-as being always in a state of evolution. His work is splendid, full of rhythmic compositions, clearly defined superimposed planes and a general sense of harmony. His declared ambition: “I want to make something solid and permanent out of Impressionism, like art in museums” illustrates the depth of an artist who does not merely seek to convey the passing moment, but also the past and the future.
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