Still Life with Flowers and Fruit

Paul Cézannearound 1890

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

In the 1880s, Cézanne’s work centered around still lifes. He produced over 170 paintings in this genre, with the same elements but rearranging them in order to arrive at new formal and painterly answers. A wooden table, a tablecloth, fruits, and a ginger jar were all items in his standard repertoire, with the addition here for the first time of a generous bunch of wildflowers — daisies, carnations, and poppies. None of Cézanne’s other still lifes are so rich in decorative detail, yet the space retains its simplicity of character, and the work retains its formal rigor. The opulence of the right-hand side of the image is balanced by the dark background and the cool, white tablecloth. The individual objects are sensually portrayed and relate in a somewhat monolithic manner to each other and to the picture space. They are an expression of Cézanne’s search for the being of things, which in itself comes through particularly in his style of painting. The surrounding space is divided into planes, but each is alive in every detail — permeated, dissolved, and reconstituted. The colours are of an infinite richness and vibrate in the juxtaposition of finely gradated light values and tones. The picture is notable for its cool, harmonious colour chords — green, yellow, and violet or red, white, and blue. Cézanne’s constant rearrangements were made in an attempt to grasp and understand the objects. He consciously chose the diffuse light of the studio in preference to bright daylight in order to emphasize the sheer physicality of the objects. The objects in Cézanne’s still lifes, whether for daily use, artificial, or natural, are detached from their normal function. Cézanne’s still lifes reflect his recognition that there are laws governing the world and the portrayal of its complexity.

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  • Title: Still Life with Flowers and Fruit
  • Creator: Paul Cézanne
  • Date Created: around 1890
  • Physical Dimensions: w82.0 x h65.5 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • original title: Fleurs dans un pot de gingembre et fruits
  • Technique and material: Oil on canvas
  • Inv.-No.: A I 965
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Karin März
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist biography: Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter. Following the wish of his father, a banker, he began studying law in 1859, while simultaneously taking evening classes at the local drawing school. His teacher was the painter Jospeh Gibert. His early works demonstrate the influence of Romanticism which was to disappear later on. In 1861 he moved to Paris where he studied at the Académie Suisse, specializing mainly in drawings of nudes. Parallel to this, he copied the works of old masters in the Louvre such as those by Michelangelo, Rubens and Titian. In 1872 he followed his friend Pissarro to Pontoise where he was taught by him. As a result of his influence, Cézanne’s initial preference for dark colours ended and his gaze turned towards finding new ways of depicting outdoor light, a core interest of Impressionism. Two years later he took part in an exhibition of young Parisian artists who felt disgruntled by the Salon de Paris and who later became known as the Impressionists. From 1890 until his death he withdrew into his painting, at times leading a recluse-like existence. During this time however, his works became famous, gaining him respect from a new generation of artists. Cézanne formed a bridge from the Impressionism of the late 19th century to the Cubism of the early 20th century. He was a master of colour and composition and a forerunner of abstraction. In contrast to most artists of his time, he was deeply influenced by Gustave Courbet and Eugène Delacroix and their realistic approach to the painted subject. He was the first artist to depict objects broken down in their simple geometric forms. Cézanne is well known for compositions like 'Mill On The Couleuvre near Pontoise' (1881), 'The Card Players' (1892) and 'Still Life with a Curtain' (1895).
  • Artist Place of Death: Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Artist Place of Birth: Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Artist Dates: 1839-01-19/1906-10-22