Lot 42
  • 42

Jean Metzinger

bidding is closed


  • Jean Metzinger
  • Nature morte aux poires
  • Signed J. Metzinger (lower right)

  • Oil on canvas

  • 45 5/8 by 32 in. (116 by 81.3 cm)


Léonce Rosenberg, Paris (acquired from the artist)

Galerie La Gentilhommière, Paris

Lydia Winston Malbin, New York (acquired from the above in 1953 and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, May 16, 1990, lot 49)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Art Museum, Twentieth century painting and sculpture from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry L. Winston, 1955, no. 43

The Detroit Institute of Arts; The Virginia Museum of Art; The San Francisco Museum of Art; The Milwaukee Art Institute, Collecting Modern Art, Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lewis Winston, 1957-58, no. 69 (as dating from 1912-17)

New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Futurism: A Modern Focus, The Lydia and Harry Lewis Winston Collection (Dr. and Mrs. Barnett Malbin), 1973-74, no. 67



Jean Metzinger in Retrospect (exhibition catalogue), Iowa City, The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City (and traveling), 1985-86, illustrated pl. 101

Catalogue Note

Metzinger is credited with being the first to recognize stylistic similarities in the work of Picasso, Braque, Delaunay, and Le Fauconnier, playing a crucial role in the establishment of a distinct Cubist movement. He exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants of 1911, and in the following months published a series of interviews and magazine articles defining the Cubist style. In Cubism, an essay he published with Albert Gleizes in 1912, he proclaimed, "To establish pictorial space, we must have recourse to tactile and motor sensations, indeed to all our faculties. It is our whole personality which, contracting or expanding, transforms the plane of the picture. As it reacts, this plane reflects the personality back upon the understanding of the spectator, and thus pictorial space is defined: a sensitive passage between two subjective spaces. The forms which are situated within this space spring from a dynamism which we profess to dominate. In order that our intelligence may possess it, let us first exercise our sensitivity. There are only nuances. Form appears endowed with properties identical to those of color. It is tempered or augmented by contact with another form, it is destroyed or it flowers, it is multiplied or it disappears" (translated in Robert L. Herbert, ed., Modern Artists on Art, New York, 1986, p. 8).


Nature morte aux poires embodies the artistic principles that Metzinger put forth in the above essay. The bottles and fruit on the table, and even the larger forms of the table and wall, are defined by the juxtaposition of varying hues of color and by contrasting brushstrokes. Although the solid blue wall appears to recede into the background, Metzinger has succeeded in creating active space throughout the entire picture plane using variations of texture and value. The larger planes of color in the periphery of the composition are anchored by the weighty forms of the still-life in the center of the table, a direct reference to the work of Cézanne, whom Metzinger greatly admired. The voluptuously modeled pears, elegant bottles, and carefully arranged cloth on the table recall Cézanne's later still-lifes, in which he experimented with spatial relationships and modeling, elements that would later preoccupy the Cubist painters. As Metzinger declared, "He who understands Cézanne, is close to Cubism" (translated in Robert L. Herbert, ed., Modern Artists on Art, New York, 1986, p. 4).