Paul Cezanne 1839-1906 BACK

Sugar Bowl, Pears, and Blue Cup
oil on canvas 30x41cm
Musee Granet

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While Bread and Eggs recalls the still lifes exhibited by Manet at Cadart's gallery in 1865, if in a cruder idiom (it shares their Spanish manner and their Chardin-like arrangements), Sugar Bowl, Pears, and Blue Cup is conceived along very different lines. The objects are arrayed horizontally and all suggestion of artful mise-en-scene is eschewed. The handling, worked with a palette knife, consists of broad irregular strokes that "build up' the fruit and vessels almost like masonry; the colors, previously distributed in large uniform areas of white, brown, and black, are inextricably mixed together. It is not so much the Spanish masters and Manet as the provincial painter Adolphe Monticelli whose example can be sensed here. His work offers the only parallel with this rough-hewn style, briefly adopted by Cezanne for some months in 1866 and dubbed by the artist himself some thirty years later couillarde, or "ballsy."'

Cezanne turned this small canvas, so unprepossessing yet so novel, into something of a manifesto; as if to drive this home, he placarded it on the wall in the large portrait of his father reading L'Evenement . Unlike Degas, for example, who in his Bellelli Family (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) boldly presented one of his own drawings on the wall as if it were from the hand of an acknowledged master (giving it a wide marie-louise mat and a large gilded frame), Cezanne placed his little composition on the wall unframed, squaring its format a bit and moving its constituent elements closer together. Thus this modest composition, partly obscured by the chintz-covered "throne" into which his father settles, becomes an emblem for a "new manner of painting," the one so pointedly defended by Emile Zola in his articles in L'Evenement, which Cezanne's father is here depicted reading with as much resignation as skepticism.

excerpt from

by Isabelle Cahn, Henri Loyrette, Joseph J. Rishel

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