Paul Cézanne - Still Life 1879

Still Life 1879
Still Life
1879 26x34cm oil/canvas
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, Texas, USA

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From Dallas Museum of Fine Arts:
Paul Cézanne 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-Siméon Chardin, whose works Cézanne 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. Cézanne 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.