Saturday in the Museum with Paul III

Image: Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples and Peaches (c. 1905).

We close out our series of Cézanne still life postings for our Saturday look at art, and we turn the page on the 19th Century.

This week’s painting is found in D.C.’s own National Gallery of Art. Due to Covid, it is closed. We hope circumstances will change soon, but until then we share this treasure. Still Life with Apples and Peaches comes late in Cézanne’s career. The thick strokes of the early paintings is gone. Now it is the slightly dusty look of his mature work. The NGA site describes the picture this way:

“Cézanne painted and repainted the objects pictured here many times. The table, patterned cloth, and flowered pitcher were all props he kept in his studio. Every different arrangement was a new exploration of forms and their relationships.

“Here the table tilts unexpectedly, defying traditional rules of perspective. Similarly, we see the pitcher in profile but are also allowed a look down into it. Paradoxically, it is Cézanne’s fidelity to what he saw that accounts for this ‘denial’ of logic and three–dimensional space. It is not so much that he is deliberately flattening space. Rather he is concentrating on the objects themselves instead of the perspectival scheme—the ‘box of air’—in which they exist. Cézanne worked slowly and deliberately. Over the course of days, he would move his easel, painting different objects—or even the same one—from different points of view. Each time, he painted what he saw. It was his absorption in the process of painting that pushed his work toward abstraction.”


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Tip Big. Wear a Mask. Have a safe and warm week.