Paul Cézanne

Still Life with Pears and Apples, Covered Blue Jar, and a Bottle of Wine
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Paul Cézanne
Still Life with Pears and Apples, Covered Blue Jar, and a Bottle of Wine. Verso: Sketch of Mont Sainte-Victoire
Watercolor over graphite; verso: watercolor over graphite.
18 3/4 x 24 15/16 inches (476 x 617 mm)
Thaw Collection.

Landscape sketch with Mont Sainte-Victoire and trees

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Cézanne's watercolors are among his most celebrated works and constitute the majority of his late drawings. The artist turned to watercolor in the 1870s, and continued to explore the medium, increasingly as a form independent form oils, throughout the remaining three decades of his career. Although some of his watercolors were exhibited in 1895 and again in 1905 at Ambrose Vollard's Paris gallery and were collected during his lifetime, it was the posthumous 1907 exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery that brought Cézanne's watercolors critical attention and attracted the interest of the cubists.
The artist began the present double-sided sheet with a simple graphite sketch of the profile of one of his favorite landscape subjects in his native Aix-en-Provence, Mont Sainte-Victoire, with trees and shrubs in the foreground. After adding a few touches of watercolor, he apparently decided not to develop the composition and subsequently reused the paper for the confident, full-fledged watercolor still life on the recto. The view of Mont Sainte-Victoire is consistent with a group of sixteen watercolors and about eight paintings he made between the time he moved into his studio at Les Lauves in 1902 and his death in 1906 (see Rewald 1983, nos. 582-97).
Cézanne began the monumental study of objects arrayed on his studio table with a light and free sketch in black chalk, adumbrating the principal forms of the table, bottle, blue pot, and fruit. The rapidly sketched contours and shading reveal his concern with the volumetric forms. Working in luminous, transparent strokes of watercolor in rich hues, he layered the washes to define the contours, which are struck by a bright shaft of light glancing along the top of the pile of fruit, between the pot and the bottle, casting purple shadows on the pristine surface of the table. John Rewald dated the recto between 1902 and 1906, noting that the blue pot may be the same as the one seen in the watercolor Still Life with Blue Pot at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (83.GC.221), although it appears smaller in the present sheet. The knife and wine bottles also appear in watercolors from this period.
Carol Armstrong characterized these watercolors as “between the condition of the study and the status of the picture” and collectively referred to them as Cézanne's tableaux non finis (Los Angeles 2004-5, pp. 94-95). The artist purposefully left the forms of the apples and the bottle unfinished, making them identifiable but in a manner suggestive rather than illustrative. An intermittent outline of staccato strokes of blue watercolor distinguishes individual shapes and enhances the dynamic, vibrating quality of the surface. Cézanne also used the expansive reserve of paper boldly, delineating the far edge of the table but leaving blank the foreground. The vertical forms of the background suggest a wall, and the horizontal bands at left might describe either the wall or a chair.


Paper embossed MONTGOLFIER SA. Numbered on verso, in black chalk, "69" and "1984".

Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939), Paris; Henri Manguin (1874-1949), Paris; Lucile Manguin-Martinais, Galerie de Paris, Paris; Norton Simon (1907-1993), Los Angeles; Norton Simon Inc. Museum of Art, Pasadena; Eugene V. (1927-2018) and Clare E. (1924-2017) Thaw, New York.
Associated names: 

Vollard, Ambroise, 1867-1939, former owner.
Manguin, Henri, former owner.
Manguin-Martinais, Lucile, former owner.
Simon, Norton, 1907-1993, former owner.
Thaw, Eugene Victor, former owner.
Thaw, Clare, former owner.


The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection", 2017. Exh. cat., no. 48, repr.
Denison, Cara D. et al. Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Victor Thaw. Part II. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1985, no. 49. (also in Thaw III, no. 82)
Denison, Cara D. et al. The Thaw Collection : Master Drawings and New Acquisitions. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1994, no. 82.
Rewald, John: Paul Cézanne, the Watercolours: A Catalogue Raisonné. Boston, 1983, cat. no. 567, pl 40, and 58 ₁a (verso).
Cézanne in the Studio: Still-life in Watercolours. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004-5.
From Leonardo to Pollock: Master drawings from the Morgan Library. New York: Morgan Library, 2006, cat. no. 91, p. 190-191.

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