Paul Cézanne painted Still Life with Flower Holder (Still Life with Apples and Peaches) in oil on canvas around 1905. This painting is part of the National Gallery of Art collection in Washington.
What is depicted in Still Life with Flower Holder ( Still Life with Apples and Peaches)?
The painting shows several apples and peaches arranged around a jug and flower holder. Two pleated draperies provide a special dynamic to the composition.
Still Life with Flower Holder ( Still Life with Apples and Peaches)- Analysis
Still life was a very important part of Cézanne’s work. The inventive and revolutionary principles that Cézanne introduced to still life painting can be traced through his relationship to perspective, line, and color. In the domain of perspective, Cézanne made changes that would greatly influence the later development of modern painting. He refined the default concept of linear perspective by introducing the idea of simultaneous observation of objects from several points. Relying on the theory of inverse perspective, Cézanne strove to provide as much information as possible about the presented subject. In structuring the scene, Cézanne minimized the role of the line. Although drawing was very important in Cézanne’s detailed preparation for each composition, the scene ultimately rests on the complex relationship of colors. Thus, the line in the scene was replaced by a combination of colored fields arranged according to the idea of complementarity. The complementarity of colors is the key element of Cézanne’s complex palette. Cézanne achieved harmony in both still lifes and landscapes by modulating painted surfaces based on the combination of warm and cold tones.
This still life is analyzed in William Rubin’s Cezanne: The Late Work: A darkish-brown harmony pervades this large composition; it appears also in the Portrait of Vollard, known to have been the product of countless sittings. This overall tonality, which contributes to the extraordinary compactness of the work, is brightened by three pinkish-white spots: the pitcher, the napkin, and the scalloped bowl with holes for inserting flowers. (This vase is found in no other of Cézanne’s still lifes but was a popular product of old faience factories, such as that of Moustier in the Alps, which produced, among others, white wares to be found all over Provence.) The fruit, probably peaches, are yellow-orange and red; only the closest–which originally was placed even farther forward–and the one half-hidden in the folds at left are completely red; these two could be apples.
The table is of a lighter brown than the uniform background; the drapery or tapestry is the familiar one with a brownish-blue pattern of foliage. Although there is less impasto than in other contemporary canvases, the work process was evidently a long one; in some places the first layer of pigment seems to have dried before a new coat was applied on top of it. Along the outlines of the pitcher and the curves of the fruit is a heavy crust where the paint occasionally seems to have curdled.
Paul Cézanne painted a similar composition seven years earlier, Still Life with Curtain and Flowered Pitcher. This painting is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.