Pommes et oranges
This still life is painted on a white canvas whose priming is visible in the tablecloth at lower left. This picture presents a cluttered and almost agitated arrangement of opposing elements, colors, and patterns. There are two different draperies in the background: at the left--seemingly hanging from the wall--the rug with rust-brown purplish squares and a red and dark green design that was still in Cézanne's Lauves studio until World War II; next to it is a brown-beige curtain with a pattern of light green leaves and some traces of red that cascades down, met by the multifolded large white tablecloth on which crockery, apples, and oranges are assembled. At left, behind the tilted dish and half-hidden by the tablecloth, appears a small green fruit, echoing the color of the green upholstery. The dark brown background in the upper right seems related to the Vollard portrait. (This would imply that this picture may have been painted in Cézanne's Paris studio on the rue Hegesippe Moreau in I898-99, although the milkpot is presumed to have been among the artist's paraphernalia in Aix.)
The surface on which the elements of this still life are assembled appears somewhat ambiguous, concealed as it is by the white cloth; only one table leg can be seen at the right, whereas at the left the tabletop may be resting on the sofa whose wooden frame and green upholstery can be perceived below the round dish. The white pitcher with floral design barely detaches itself from the busy surface of the curtain at right, while the stark orange fruit form a sharp contrast to the white of the cloth and the bowl. The draperies on the top and the tablecloth at the bottom practically fill the entire space not occupied by the still-life objects proper.
Though unusually crowded, this composition obviously corresponds to a specific mood of the artist, for, as David Sylvester has said: `An apple or an orange was perhaps the best possible subject he could have: first, because while working from nature, he could still dispose it as he wished; secondly, because it carried no strong emotional overtones to distract him from realizing his sensations; thirdly, because such objects presented, far more readily than landscape, the possibility of finding those clear and regular forms, like orders of architecture, which are needed for the creation of a monumental art.'
This painting originally belonged to Gustave Geffroy.
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