Lot 11
  • 11

Paul Cézanne

5,000,000 - 7,000,000 USD
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  • Paul Cézanne
  • Fleurs dans un pot d'olives
  • Oil on canvas
  • 27 2/5 by 22 7/8 in.
  • 69.5 by 58 cm


Ambroise Vollard, Paris

Andries Bonger, Amsterdam (acquired from the above on June 5, 1899)

E.J. Van Wisselingh, Amsterdam (acquired in 1927)

Galerie Etienne Bignou, Paris

Jacques Laroche, Paris (acquired by 1932 until at least 1953)

Matthiesen Gallery, London

Acquired from the above in April 1959


Cologne, Ausstellungshalle der Stadt Cöln am Aachener Tor, Sonderbund westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Kunstler, 1912, no. 133

New York, Knoedler Gallery, Flowers by French Painters, XIX and XX Centuries, 1932, no. 14

Paris, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Centenaire de Cézanne, 1939, no. 9, illustrated in the catalogue (dated 1883)

London, Rosenberg & Helft Gallery, Cézanne, 1939, no.7, illustrated in the catalogue
Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet; Nice, Musée Massena & Grenoble, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Cézanne, Peintures, Aquarelles, Dessins, 1953, no. 11

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Paul Cézanne, Peintures, Aquarelles, Dessins, 1983, no. 18, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, Odilon Redon and Emile Bernard: Masterpieces from the Andries Bonger Collection, 2009, no. 45, illustrated in the catalogue

Cologne, Wallraf Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, 1912 – Mission Moderne: Die Jahrhundertschau des Sonderbundes, 2012, no. 17, illustrated in color in the catalogue (titled Blumen in grüner vase)

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Cézanne Site/Non-site, 2014, no. 33, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, 1997-2015 (on loan)


Art News, XXXI, New York, November 1932, no.7

Lionello Venturi, Cézanne, son Art - son Oeuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. I no. 511, catalogued p. 174; vol. II, no. 511, illustrated pl. 156 (dated circa 1883-87 and titled Fleurs dans un vase vert)

Karl-Ernst Osthaus, "Dernière visite à Cézanne", Marianne, February  22, 1939, illustrated

Francis Jourdain, Cézanne, Paris & New York, 1950, illustrated

Alfonso Gatto & Sandra Orienti, L'Opera completa di Cézanne, Milan, 1970, no. 409, illustrated p. 109

Gaëtan Picon & Sandra Orienti, Tout l’oeuvre peint de Cézanne, Paris, 1975, no. 491, illustrated p. 109

John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1996, vol. I, no. 477, catalogued p. 318; vol. II, no. 477, illustrated p. 153

Barbara Schaefer, Mission Moderne: die Jahrhundertschau des Sonderbundes, Cologne, 2012, listed p. 554

Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman & David Nash, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné (www.cezannecatalogue.com), no. 790

Catalogue Note

Fleurs dans un pot d'olives encapsulates Cézanne’s artistic achievement and displays the brilliance that characterizes his best work. This striking composition from the early 1880s exemplifies the artist’s unrivaled facility with the medium and his ability to imbue a still life with all of the subtlety and emotional potency of portraiture.

Cézanne's still lifes, long recognized among his greatest achievements, are the works which clearly demonstrate the innovations that led to the stylistic developments of early twentieth-century art. In the aftermath of the critical Salon des Refusés of 1863, Cézanne responded to the criticism received by avant-garde artists by turning to the still-life genre as a form of rebellion. He rejected the hierarchical jury of the Salon. At the time, still-life painting was looked down upon as an inferior subject matter reserved for artists who were not trained in figure drawing. Cézanne embraced the genre of still-lifes in defiance and instead used the subject as means to study the formal elements of painting.

Cézanne executed a powerful series of medium-scaled still lifes during the 1880s. His depictions of flowers from this period focus on the inherent geometry of objects and explore the spatial dilemmas of representing three-dimensional forms on a two-dimensional surface.  In the present oil, a richly colored bouquet bursting forth from a simply colored olive jar dominates the foreground of the composition. The blossoms flourish with bright yellow tones against the near white background and, like other still lifes executed throughout his career, originates in the trompe-l’oeil compositions of the French Old Masters that Cézanne studied at the Louvre.  Richard Kendall wrote about Cézanne’s paintings from this time noting, “By this state in his career, the still life had taken on a special significance for [Cézanne], and he was to become one of the most original and dedicated exponents of the form.  Far from being just a pretext for picture-making, the groups of apples, pears, cherries or flowers were for Cézanne as much a part of nature’s extravagant beauty as the trees and hillsides of Provence, and as likely to produce his ‘vibrating sensations’ as the landscape itself” (R. Kendall, Cézanne by Himself: Drawings, Paintings, Writings, London, 1988, p. 11).  

Cézanne's mature still lifes are considered the harbingers of twentieth-century Modernism, and provided a key inspiration for the Cubist compositions of Picasso and Braque. Picasso proclaimed that “Cézanne was like the father of us all,” a statement which confirms that as these artists formulated a new artistic language during the early years of Cubism, they were inspired by Cézanne’s radical approach to form.

Fleurs dans un pot d'olives has remarkable provenance. Having first belonged to Cézanne’s dealer, Ambroise Vollard, it was later purchased in June 1900 for 2,000 French Francs by Andries Bonger. Andries was the sister of Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, the wife of Vincent van Gogh’s brother, Theo. John Rewald notes that Andries purchased the present work along with three others from Vollard.  In addition to its prestigious origin, the present work was sold to Jacques Laroche, a Parisian collector whose collection included one of Cézanne’s famous self-portraits, later donated to the Musée du Louvre.

This work has been requested for loan to the major Cézanne exhibition curated by Daniel Marchesseau at the Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny in June 2017.