Impressionist & Modern Art

The Cézanne Jewel in the Crown of the Renand-Chapet Collection

By Sotheby's

A still life by the impressionist master Paul Cézanne will be offered for sale in the upcoming La Collection Renand-Chapet auction in Paris on 19 October. One of the most significant pieces in the collection, Abricots et cerises sur une assiette was acquired by George Renand in 1932, and hung in pride of place in his apartment in Paris. Renand was active as a collector when many of these historically important works were made. The collection – which was taken over and expanded by his daughter and son in law – included works by the masters of modern art, such as Bonnard, Matisse and Modigliani, all breaking new ground in pictorial representation in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Specialists and critics of Cézanne’s work all agree that 1878 was a decisive date in the master’s work. Painted between 1877 and 1879, Abricots et cerises sur une assiette is a work which precisely testifies to a change in vision, in the perception of light and the conception of space. It is a work where, in the shadow of deceptive silence, rustle the main precursory elements of Modernity. In the composition’s deliberately compact field, Cézanne has well and truly foregone the romantic and expressionist accents of his first period.

From a technical point of view, Cézanne contrasts the rapid execution of paint that creates a vibrato of colour, with a slower method: he applies the brushstrokes next to each other, picking them up here and there. His need for rigour and construction which seemed to catch of hold of him in the midst of the impressionist emanations is particularly palpable in his built up brushstrokes. It is contained in the small, regular strokes painted here and there in diagonal which means that Abricot et cerises sur une assiette can be dated "between 1877 and 1879."

Longtime considered a minor genre in academic hierarchy the still-life seems to be precisely a genre where freedom is allowed to blossom. Abricots et cerises sur une assiette is placed precisely between the surrealist blacks of bodegones from the Spanish Golden Age and the magical realism of Giorgio Morandi’s transparencies.

As for his great reflection on light, Cézanne arrived at the following radical decision: to replace the divided impressionist brushstroke by a principle of modulation, in other words through the juxtaposition of cold and warm tones, the first containing blue, the second containing orange. Cézanne remained a source of inspiration for many of the 20th century’s avant-garde artists, is his unyeilding with which he linked the fundamental question of light with that of form.

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