National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Still Life with Apples and Peaches Paul Cézanne (artist)
French, 1839 - 1906
Still Life with Apples and Peaches, c. 1905
oil on canvas
overall: 81 x 100.5 cm (31 7/8 x 39 9/16 in.) framed: 108.9 x 128.3 cm (42 7/8 x 50 1/2 in.)
Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
1959.15.1
On View
From the Tour: Paul Cézanne
Object 5 of 6

"The eye must grasp, bring things together," Cézanne said, "The brain will give it shape." In a still life, where the artist also creates the world he paints, each object, each placement, each viewpoint represents a decision. 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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