Lot 24
  • 24

Paul Cézanne

3,500,000 - 5,500,000 USD
3,218,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Paul Cézanne
  • Fleurs dans un vase rouge
  • Oil and pencil on canvas


Ambroise Vollard, Paris

Cornelis Hoogendijk, Amsterdam

Riet Van Blaaderen-Hoogendijk, Laren, The Netherlands

Etienne Bignou, Paris

Alex. Reid & Lefevre (The Lefevre Gallery), London & Knoedler & Co., Inc. New York

Mrs. William A. Clark, Washington, D.C. (December 1928)

Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York

Mr. & Mrs. John T. Dorrance Jr., Gladwyne (acquired from the above on February 9, 1970 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, October 18, 1989, lot 16)

Fujii Gallery, Tokyo

Sale: Christie's, New York, May 10, 1994, lot 43

Acquired at the above sale


Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Moderne Kunst Kring, 1911

New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., A Century of French Painting, 1928, no. 25, illustrated in the catalogue

San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, French Painting from the XVth Century to the Present, 1934, no. 70 

New York, Wildenstein, Six Post-Impressionists,1948, no. 3, illustated in the catalogue

Philadelphia Museum of Art , Cézanne, 1983, no. 8


Lionello Venturi, Cézanne, son art-son oeuvre, vol. I, Paris, 1936, no. 360, catalogued p. 143; vol. II, illustrated pl. 99 (as dating from 1879-80)

Sandra Orienti, The Complete Painting of Cézanne, New York, 1972, no. 488, illustrated p. 109

Ronald Pickvance, Cézanne, Tokyo, 1986, illustrated p. 38

H. Henkels, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1993, fig. 55, illustrated

John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, A Catalogue raisonné, vol. I, New York, 1996, no. 476, catalogued pp. 317-318; vol. II, illustrated p. 152

Catalogue Note

Cézanne revolutionized the practice of still life painting, transforming the genre into one of the most radical modes of expression.   Be it a basket of fruit or a vase of flowers, the placement of objects in his compositions often defied visual expectation and challenged traditional understanding of spatial perspective.  Cézanne's innovative compositional experiments with these pictures would ultimately inspire Braque and Picasso's Cubist undertaking in the early twentieth century.  The present composition, painted around the end of 1880, is an early example of Cézanne's approach.

Cézanne's primary concern is with the sophisticated interplay of form and space.  Botanical classifications are secondary here, and John Rewald suggested that the blossoms that he used for the composition were probably artificial.  For Cézanne, the flowers are primarily a vehicle for the artist to explore the underlying geometry of the natural world.  This picture demonstrates an intentional economy of form that would be characteristic of his oil paintings in the mid-1880s, when he used thinner, more transparent application of paint in order to stress the role of the negative space.  His decision to integrate the areas of primed canvas into the composition and his abbreviated application of pigment is an example of this tendency.

According to Rewald, the vase depicted in the present work is identical to the one depicted in the picture belonging to the Norton Simon Museum (Rewald no. 478).  In that picture, the floral arrangement is set against a background with wallpaper from Cézanne's home at 32, rue de l'Ouest in Paris, where he lived intermittently between 1880 and 1882.  Rewald tells us that for those still lifes he did in this premises, Cézanne "took certain 'liberties' with the background motif where the need for this arose."  In the case of the present work, he "solved the problem of the indiscreet wallpaper by eliminating it altogether or setting the arrangement against a neutral background." (J. Rewald, op. cit.,p. 319).

In a letter to Emile Bernard, Cézanne provided the following description of his artistic approach to his paintings: “While one paints, one draws; the more the color harmonizes, the more precise becomes the drawing. When the color is rich, the form is at its height. The contrasts and relations of tone comprise the secret of drawing and form,” for “the form and contour of objects are conveyed to us through the opposition and contrast resulting from their individual colors.” (quoted in J. Rewald, Cézanne, A Biography, New York, 1986, p. 225).

Fleurs dans un vase rouge
once belonged to Mrs. William A. Clark (née Anna La Chapelle, 1878-1963), the second wife of the late Montana senator and industrialist, who donated much of his expansive art collection to the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.