The dining room of Joseph Durand-Ruel, 37, rue de Rome, Paris with the present lot on the left-hand side. BARCODE 12942626.
©c Document Archives Durand-Ruel
Cézanne's still-lifes have long been counted among the artist's greatest achievements. In his seminal study of Cézanne's oeuvre, Roger Fry declared, "Cézanne is distinguished among artists of the highest rank by the fact that he devoted so large a part of his time to this class of picture, that he achieved in still-life the expression of the most exalted feelings and the deepest intuitions of his nature. Rembrandt alone, and that only in the rarest examples, can be compared to him in this respect" (in Cézanne: A Study of His Development, Chicago, 1927, p. 37). As the basis for his still-life compositions, Cézanne typically selected simple fruits and rustic tablewares, humble props that belie the enormous complexity and inventiveness of these works. He was particularly drawn to apples, once telling his friend Joachim Gasquet, "With an apple, I want to astonish Paris" (quoted in Cézanne, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1996, p. 383). In his well-known essay entitled "The Apples of Cézanne," the scholar and critic Meyer Schapiro explained, "Not only in the importance of still-life in general for Cézanne's art, but also in his persistent choice of apples, we sense a personal trait. If he achieved a momentary calm through these carefully considered, slowly ripened paintings, it was not in order to prepare for a higher effort. These are major works, often of the same complexity and grandeur as his most impressive landscapes and figure compositions" (Modern Art, 19th and 20th Centuries: Selected Papers, New York, 1978, p. 15).
Pommes et gâteaux is one of several still-lifes of fruit and sweets that Cézanne painted in 1877-1879 (fig. 1; Rewald, nos. 325, 327, 337-338). In the present version, he has arranged a compotier of apples and a plate of cakes on a simple wooden storage chest, the front of which is covered with flowered material. The same chest appears in at least ten other still-lifes from the latter half of the 1870s and was probably part of the furnishings of Cézanne's apartment at 67, rue de l'Ouest in Paris (fig. 2; R., nos. 211, 322, 327, 417-420, 427, 431, 479). The flowered material is used to enliven the front of the chest in several of these paintings and also appears as a tablecloth in two compositions from the same period (R., nos. 316, 328). In each of these canvases, Cézanne viewed the materials at his disposal as if for the first time, altering their exact arrangement in order to establish new chromatic and spatial relationships. Describing this process, John Rewald wrote, "Cézanne showed a superb inventiveness when, using more or less the same objects, he assembled several series of still-lifes in which each of these objects plays a completely different role. Without repeating the arrangements, he managed, quite to the contrary, to achieve a new balance and a new harmony of colors by shifting the familiar objects and regrouping them in an astonishing variety of compositions" (in Cézanne: A Biography, New York, 1986, p. 181).
The present painting has an exceptionally interesting history. Its first owner was Victor Chocquet, an energetic champion of Impressionism and the earliest consistent buyer of Cézanne's work. A customs clerk of modest means, Chocquet nevertheless was able to amass a remarkable collection of paintings and drawings during the second half of the nineteenth century, including at least thirty-five works by Cézanne. Monet described Chocquet as the only individual that he had ever met "who truly loved painting with a passion," and Renoir called him "the greatest French collector since the kings, perhaps of the world since the Popes!" (quoted in J. Rewald, op. cit., 1996, p. 194). Chocquet also became one of Cézanne's closest friends. The artist made six oil portraits and numerous drawings of Chocquet between their first meeting in 1875 and the collector's death in 1891 (fig. 3; R., nos. 292, 296-297, 460-461, 671). Shortly after Chocquet passed away, Cézanne took up a project for which he had made a sketch in the late seventies, an Apotheosis of Delacroix showing the master--the first artist whose work Chocquet had collected extensively--being carried heavenward by two angels. On the ground are assembled Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne himself, and Chocquet, a testament to Cézanne's affection and admiration for the dedicated and insightful collector.
Pommes et gâteaux is believed to be one of sixteen paintings, including three still-lifes, that Cézanne contributed to the Third Impressionist Exhibition in 1877. The painting is signed in red, a peculiarity that Theodore Reff and John Rewald both associate with the picture's inclusion in the 1877 show. Two other still-lifes from the same period also bear a red signature: Un dessert (fig. 1) and Le plat de pommes (R. 348; Metropolitan Museum of Art). Although Chocquet's name is not listed in the catalogue of Third Impressionist Exhibition, it is likely that he already owned all three of these still-lifes, along with several other paintings in the show, including his own portrait (R. 292; Private Collection). In the case of Pommes et gâteaux, Rewald notes that the corner with the signature has much less heavy pigment than the remainder of the canvas and proposes that Cézanne re-worked the painting after the 1877 exhibition in order to attain "the extraordinary, enamel-like, precious impasto that underlies the volume bathed in a soft light" (in op. cit., 1996, p. 223).
Chocquet's fierce devotion to Cézanne and his colleagues is evident from the collector's behavior at the Third Impressionist Exhibition. Having resigned his customs post earlier in 1877, Chocquet was able to spend all his time at the show, challenging those critics and collectors who derided the work on view. The critic Georges Rivière later recalled, "He was something to see, standing up to hostile crowds at the exhibition during the first years of Impressionism. He accosted those who laughed, making them ashamed of their unkind comments, lashing them with ironic remarks. Hardly had he left one group before he would be found, farther along, leading a reluctant connoisseur, almost by force, up to canvases by Renoir, Monet, or Cézanne, doing his utmost to make the man share his admiration for these reviled artists. He exerted himself tirelessly without ever departing from that refined courtesy that made him the most charming, and the dangerous, adversary" (quoted in A. Distel, Impressionism: The First Collectors, New York, 1990, p. 137). Perhaps swayed by Chocquet's arguments, Rivière lauded the present painting in his review of the exhibition: "His still-lifes so beautiful, so exact in the relationships of tones, have something solemn in their veracity" ("L'Impressionniste," Journal d'Art, April 14, 1877; quoted in J. Rewald, op. cit., 1996, p. 227).
Chocquet died in 1891, just a year after he had commissioned Cézanne to paint a group of decorative panels for his new home on the rue Monsigny in Paris (R. 643-644). When his wife passed away eight years later, Chocquet's collection was dispersed at public auction at the Galerie Georges Petit. The announcement of the sale generated a good deal of excitement. "Great artistic event in view," Pissarro wrote to his son. "Père Chocquet as well as his wife having died, his collection is going to be sold at auction. There are thirty-two first-rate Cézannes, which will sell for high prices" (quoted in A. Distel, op. cit., p. 128). In addition to the works by Cézanne, the sale included twenty-three oils by Delacroix, ten each by Renoir and Monet, and examples by Corot, Courbet, Daumier, Manet, Morisot, Pissarro, and Sisley. As Pissarro had predicted, the sale was an enormous success. Auction receipts totaled over 450,000 francs, with unprecedented prices achieved for Cézanne's work in particular. At Monet's urging, the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who had never before owned a canvas by Cézanne, purchased nearly half of the paintings by the artist in the auction, including the present one. He paid an average of 1,875 francs for each of the pictures, roughly ten times what Cézanne's work had realized at the sale of père Tanguy's collection just five years earlier.
Rather than putting the present painting into gallery stock, Durand-Ruel retained it for his personal collection. Around the turn of the century, Matisse saw the picture in an exhibition of still-lifes at the Galerie Durand-Ruel: "At Durand-Ruel's gallery, I saw two very beautiful still-lifes by Cézanne, biscuits and milk bottles and fruit in deep blue. My attention was drawn to them by old Durand, to whom I was showing some still-lifes I had painted" (quoted in J. Flam, Matisse on Art, Berkeley, 1995, pp. 157-158). The painting hung in the dining room of Durand-Ruel's apartment in Paris until his death and remains today in the collection of his descendants, who are offering it in this sale.
(fig. 1) Paul Cézanne, Un dessert, 1877-1879. Philadelphia Museum of Art. BARCODE 23659360
(fig. 2) Paul Cézanne, Pommes et biscuits, 1879-1880. Musée National de l'Orangerie, Paris. BARCODE 23659377
(fig. 3) Paul Cézanne, Portrait de Victor Chocquet assis, 1877. Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. BARCODE 23659384
On outside of foldout page:
verso of the present lot (BARCODE 16875500VER).
Pommes et gâteaux
Oil on canvas
PROPERTY FROM A FRENCH PRIVATE COLLECTION
Signed 'P. Cézanne' (lower left)
Paris, Troisième Exposition des impressionnistes, 6 rue le Peletier, Paris, April 1877, no. 17.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Fleurs et natures mortes, 1901, no. 1.
Paris, Salon d'Automne, 1904, no. 20.
London, The Grafton Galleries, Boudin, Cézanne, Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, January-February 1905, no. 43.
Berlin, Galerie Paul Cassirer, 1908, no. 20.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Natures mortes, 1908, no. 12.
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Cézanne Retrospective, June 1926, no. 10.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Fleurs et natures mortes, 1931, no. 8. Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., De Corot à van Gogh, 1934, no. 3.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Cézanne, March--April 1938, no. 4.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, The Four Great Impressionists: Cézanne, Degas, Renoir, Manet, 1940, no. 2 (illustrated).
New York, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Paintings by Cézanne, November--December 1942, no. 1 (illustrated).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Still-life: Manet to Picasso, 1944, no. 5.
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Natures mortes, 1952, no. 97.
Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet, Cézanne, peintures, aquarelles, dessins, July-August 1953, no. 6.
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Paul Cézanne, 1954, no. 107.
Rome, Peintures françaises du 19e siècle, 1955, no. 7.
Kunsthaus Zürich, Paul Cézanne, August--October 1956, no. 20.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Von David bis Cézanne, 1964, no. 20.
Hamburg, Kunstverein, Französische Impressionisten. Hommage à Durand-Ruel, November 1970 - January 1971, no. 6 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, Cézanne, March--May 1974, no. 19.
Kyoto, Municipal Museum, Cézanne, June--July 1974, no. 19.
Fukuoka, Cultural center, Cézanne, July--August 1974, no. 19.
18 1/8 x 21¾ in. (46.1 x 55.3)
Revue illustré, 15 Oct. 1904 (illustrated).
V. Pica, l'Impressionisti Francesi, Bergame, 1908 (illustrated p. 197).
A. Vollard, Paul Cézanne, Paris 1914, pl. 45.
Bulletin de la vie artistique, July 1926, p. 194 (illustrated).
E. Bernard, Souvenirs sur Paul Cézanne, une conversation avec Cézanne, Paris 1926 (illustrated).
L. Venturi, Cézanne son art-son oeuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. I, p. 109, no. 196 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 53).
M. Raynal, Cézanne, Paris, 1936, pl.LXXXIV (illustrated).
J. Rewald, History of Impressionism, New York, 1946 (illustrated, p. 320).
B. Dorival, Cézanne, Paris, 1948 ( illustrated, p. 37).
M. Wahl, Création picturale et ordre cérébral, Paris, 1964, pp. 100-104 (illustrated).
J. Rewald, Gazette des Beaux Arts, July--August 1969, p. 24 (illustrated, fig. 16).
M. Schapiro, Paul Cézanne, Paris, 1973, p. 38 (illustrated).
S. Monneret, L'impressionnisme et son époque, Dictionnaire International, Paris, 1981, vol. I, p. 140.
S. Monneret, L'impressionnisme et son époque, Dictionnaire International, Paris, 1981, vol. 4, p. 157 (illustrated in the apartment of Durand-Ruel).
J Rewald, Studies in Impressionism, London, 1985, p. 167, no. 30.
C. Moffett, The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, San Francisco, p. 203.
J. Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, vol. I, p. 223, no. 329 (illustrated; vol. II, p. 106).
Victor Chocquet, Paris; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, 1-4 July 1899, lot 30.
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired at the above sale)
By descent from the above to the present owners.
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