LONDON - From the experiments in perspective of Pablo Picasso to the Symbolism of Odilon Redon, the still life was a favoured subject throughout the Impressionist and Modern periods. It is therefore fitting that the Impressionist & Modern Art Day sale on 24 June in London features some extraordinary still lifes by some of the most important artists of the period.
Les Tulipes, painted in 1928, represents a major turning point in Marc Chagall’s artistic production in the mid-1920’s. It was at this time that the artist became increasingly interested in studying and adapting, to a certain degree, the prevailing stylistic schools in France. Having recently returned to Paris from Russia, where had been effectively trapped during the First World War, Chagall turned to the theme of bouquets time and again, viewing the subject as quintessentially French.
Pablo Picasso’s Bouquet dans un vase, painted in 1907, with its vivid colours and pure application of paint, mark a rare example of a Fauve influence in the artist’s work. Indeed Picasso had become socially linked to several of the Fauves by this time, especially Henri Matisse, whom he had met through the writer Gertrude Stein. Picasso would later recall: “ You’ve got to be able to picture side by side everything Matisse and I were doing at that time. No one has ever looked at Matisse’s painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he.” The lively and dynamic still life is undoubtedly a response to the creative atmosphere that Picasso encountered in Paris at this time and a testament to the ceaseless artistic experimentation that would characterise his career and lead him to become the most celebrated of Modern painters.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Poires et Pommes, painted circa 1890, has the unmistakable touch of the artist in terms of colour palette and brushstroke. Originally exhibited and sold by the famed Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris, the canvas illustrates Renoir’s continued interest in the still life and indeed the work of Paul Cézanne.
Odilon Redon’s exquisite floral still-lifes are the hallmark of his artistic production. Bouquet au petit vase bleu can be counted among the finest examples of this defining motif of his career. Throughout his career, Redon collected a variety of vases, jugs and pitchers, likely acquired at markets in Paris, and depicted them repeatedly in several compositions. In rendering them, he often attempted to harmonise the colours of the vase with those of the flowers.
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