The 1860's were to see the beginnings of Impressionism and Paul Cézanne met many of the key figures such as Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. His early work was unaccomplished, however, and it wasn't until 1873 that his skill became apparent in 'The House of the Hanged Man', which was exhibited at the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874. Paul Cézanne exhibited again with the Impressionists in 1877 but refused to identify himself with the movement. Instead he was searching for a new way to approach the representation of nature. He talked of humanizing a landscape through the exercise of an artist's feelings.
From 1880 onwards, Paul Cézanne spent less time in Paris preferring the landscape of Provence. Upon his father's death in 1886, Paul Cézanne’s inheritance gave him financial independence. He continued to concentrate on his favorite themes such as portraits of his wife, Hortense and studies of the Provence landscape such as 'Mont Sainte Victoire' (c.1886-1888) and 'Aix: Rocky Landscape' (c.1887).
In 1895, the dealer Ambroise Vollard mounted Paul Cézanne's first one-man exhibition and this was to bring the artist out of the shadow of obscurity and by the end of the century he was referred to as 'Sage' by many of the avant-garde.
Paul Cézanne simultaneously achieved flatness and spatiality through his use of color, as color, while unifying and establishing surface, also tends to affect interpretations of space and volume. This characteristic of Cézanne's work is viewed as a pivotal step leading up to the abstract art of the 20th century.
"All things, particularly in art, are theory developed and applied in contact with nature. Painting is not only to copy the object, it is to seize a harmony between numerous relations."