After winning the Prix Granet in Aix, he attended the Academy of Charles Suisse in Paris. This artist's studio, situated on the quai des Orfèvres on the Île de la Cité, also counted Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne among its students. Solari, however, found it hard to make ends meet as an artist. The painter Achille Emperaire, trained at the same Academy, commented, "Everybody had support, only poor Solari was forced to worry about his next crust." He made his debut in Paris at the 1867 Salon.
At the 1868 Salon, speaking about Solari's "Sleeping negro", Zola declared, "I find in Philippe Solari one of our two or three really modern sculptors. He has ceased to dream about absolute beauty. Beauty for him has become the living expression of nature, the interpretation of the human body."
When his sculpture of Johan Barthold Jongkind was unveiled in the Cemetery of Montmartre in 1904, Solari preferred not to step forward to be acknowledged. This characteristic reserve was doubtless responsible for the many closed doors that he encountered in the course of his career. A first cast of the sculpture of Jongkind is on display in rue Ganay in Aix.
At the end of his life he produced two sculptures of Cézanne, one from memory (known as Cézanne, the dreamer), the other sculpted from life in Cézanne's studio in Aix. The journalist Jules Bernex told an anecdote about the last sitting. When adding the final touches, the sculptor took a pince-nez out of his pocket and placed it on his nose. Cézanne apparently objected, exclaiming that never again would he sit for someone who could not see him with the naked eye.
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