Gustave Courbet / Still Life with Apples, Pear, and Pomegranates / 1871 or 1872Gustave Courbet
Still Life with Apples, Pear, and Pomegranates
1871 or 1872

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Creator Name: Courbet, Gustave
Creator Dates/Places: French, 1819 - 1877
Creator Name-CRT: Gustave Courbet
Title: Still Life with Apples, Pear, and Pomegranates
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1871
Creation End Date: 1871
Creation Date: 1871 or 1872
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: oil on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 10 3/4 x 16 1/4 x 2 1/2 in. (27.31 x 41.27 x 6.35 cm.) Framed dimensions: 20 x 24 3/4 in. (50.8 x 62.86 cm.)
AMICA Contributor: Dallas Museum of Art
Owner Location: Dallas, Texas, USA
ID Number: 1985.R.18
Credit Line: Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
Context: Paul Cýzanne was the greatest painter of still life in the 19th century. His only rival as a still-life painter in the history of French art was the 18th -century painter Jean-Baptiste-Simýon Chardin, whose works Cýzanne admired throughout his life. This small still life in the Reves Collection has a double identity - its scale suggests a drawing, but its medium and degree of finish belie its modest dimensions. Cýzanne made the painting along with a group of three other closely related still lifes (L'Orangerie, Paris; Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Cincinnati Art Museum). All four were done in the same room with the same still-life elements at the same moment in the artist's career. Most of these paintings are small, and all of them include one or more of the three vessels that form the motif of the Reves still life. These are a glass carafe (perhaps for vinegar or wine), a metal jug (for milk or water), and a ceramic bowl. These vessels were selected because they contrast in every way: one transparent, two opaque; one closed, two open; one matte, two shiny; one horizontal, two vertical; one glass one metal, one ceramic; one a cylinder, one an elongated sphere, the last a half-sphere; one dark, one light, and the last colorless. These still-life elements present a challenge to the painter and the viewer alike in their contrast, which is set into visual and conceptual relief by a single fruit: in the Reves still life, a perfectly spherical orange that just touches the metal jug and the ceramic bowl. The fruit is at once utterly "natural" in its origins and utterly artificial in its exoticism. It warms and enlivens a still life that is predominantly cold and gray.There has been a good deal of disagreement in the prodigious Cýzanne literature about the date of this small painting; hypotheses vary from 1877 to 1885. The most persuasive analysis was made by the great English art historian Lawrence Gowing (Gowing 1956). He used both the style of the closely related paintings and the wallpaper in the background to pinpoint the location at which they were painted as Cýzanne's Paris apartment at 67, rue de L'Ouest, where he worked in 1877 and again in 1879. Gowing then differentiated between two distinct stylistic groups and dated the group of works in which the Reves still life belongs to the earlier year.Like the majority of Cýzanne's paintings, this still life was left in its current unfinished state by the painter. It was executed on a preprimed canvas of unusual dimensions, and in many areas on both the left and right sides of the composition the primed canvas shines through the thin layers of paint. Cýzanne seems to have been most concerned with the center section of the painting, particularly with the relationships among the orange, the jug, and the bowl. Indeed, the interior of the ceramic bowl is as perfectly realized a passage of paint as any in Cýzanne's career, its white glaze contrasting completely with the flat black of the adjacent metal jug. Connoisseurs of painting had to wait two generations until the great Italian painter Morandi investigated still-life effects with equal modesty and expertise.The Reves "Still Life" was given to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, by the great collector Lillie Bliss at her death in 1931, and was sold in 1950 by the museum, whose collection commences with later paintings by Cýzanne. Emery Reves acquired it in 1955."Impressionist Paintings Drawings and Sculpture from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection," pages 64-65
AMICA ID: DMA_.1985.R.18
AMICA Library Year: 2003
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