Lot 112
  • 112

PAUL CÉZANNE | Abricots et cerises sur une assiette

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 EUR
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  • Paul Cézanne
  • Abricots et cerises sur une assiette
  • oil on canvas
  • 15,8 x 22,2 cm; 6 1/4 x 8 3/4 in.
Painted circa 1877-79.


Ambroise Vollard, Paris (probably)
Egisto Fabbri, Florence & Paris
Paul Rosenberg, Paris & New York (by 1921)
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (1926)
L'Art Moderne, Lucerne (February 1, 1930)
Georges Renand, Paris (his sale: Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Collection Georges Renand, November 20, 1987, lot 5)
Edouard & Jeannine Chapet, Paris (acquired at the above sale)


Rotterdam, Museum Boymans, Vier Eeuwen Stilleven in Frankrijk, 1954, no. 108, illustrated in the catalogue p. 54


Ambroise Vollard Stockbook, no. 4211 (probably)
Lionello Venturi, Cézanne: Son Art, Son Œuvre, Paris, 1936, no. 193, illustrated pl. 52 (vol. II)
Georges Besson, Couleurs des maîtres, 1900-1940, Lyon, 1942, illustrated pl. I
Pierre-Marie Auzas, Peintures de Cézanne, Paris, 1946, illustrated pl. IV
Bernard Dorival, Cézanne, Paris, 1948, illustrated pl. 41
John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, no. 341, illustrated p. 108 (vol. II)
Francesca Bardazzi (ed.), Cézanne in Florence: Two Collectors and the 1910 Exhibition of Impressionism (exhibition catalogue), Milan, 2007, fig. 8, illustrated in the catalogue p. 259
Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman & David Nash, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne, an Online Catalogue Raisonné, www.cezannecatalogue.com, no. 749 (accessed September 10, 2018)


Please contact the Impressionist and Modern Art Department for the condition report for this lot.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

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. On the red and arched pedestal table of Moderne Olimpia (1873-1874, Paris, Musée d’Orsay), the fruit and jug are still essentially decorative. Moreover four years after the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 in which he took part at the request of Pissarro and where he presented Moderne Olimpia and La Maison du pendu (1873, Paris, Musée d’Orsay), Cézanne succeeded in creating something that went well beyond the consequences of the impressionist revolution. In Abricots et cerises sur une assiette as in the few works painted at the turn of 1878, he affirms his originality. At this period, Cézanne was living between Aix, L’Estaque, Auvers-sur-Oise and Pontoise, Melun and Médan (at Zola’s house). If the subject of the still-life is significant in itself of the distance he had taken from the Impressionists (the genre is almost absent from their repertory), it is far from being the main one. 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." 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. What is extraordinary with Cézanne and constituted one of the sources and resources from which most of the surge of 20th century avant-garde artists drew upon, is the intransigence with which he linked the fundamental question of light with that of form. In Abricots et cerises sur une assiette, in an unprecedented manner, a new effort beats: following Sisyphus (who must be imagined as happy) and as a first sign of modern man, coloured form was built up to be solid. In this regard, in an obvious manner and contrary to what past critics thought, the deformation of objects must not be considered as clumsy. They are part of a wider orchestration where a balance comes from the combination of a play on light and the affirmation of form. The logic of imagination is at work, it illustrates the painter’s memorable words: "Painting is not about slavishly copying the objective, it is about capturing a harmony between numerous relationships". Consequently, Cézanne’s art increases reality’s potential like no other in 1878. In reverse of the incidental and the temporary, the coloured forms are full of permanence which is not of natural obedience. 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. It is the place where things live. The life that Cézanne endowed on the inanimate, yet his living beings on the contrary seem to be deprived of it. The pure subjects of his study on colour and volume, they are disembodied with majesty.

Such is the case of Madame Cézanne au fauteuil rouge (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts). A masterpiece painted in 1877, it was part of the Egisto Fabbri collections. A Florentine banker and patron of the arts, he was one of the first private collectors to bring together one of the most beautiful groups of Cézanne’s works. In 1899, he wrote to him: "I am the happy owner of sixteen of your works. I know them in all their austere and aristocratic beauty – they are for me the incarnation of what is the nobility of modern art. And often, when looking at them, I would like to tell you of the emotion I feel… Please receive the expression of my profound admiration." (Cézanne, Correspondance, 1937, pp.237-238, letter of May 28 1899). Alongside the twenty-seven works including Madame Cézanne au fauteuil rouge, there was also Le Garçon au filet rouge (Washington, National Gallery of Art), Portrait de l’artiste au beret (Boston, Museum of Fine Art), Cinq baigneurs (Detroit, Institute of Arts), Boîte à lait et pommes (New York). And Abricots et cerises sur une assiette.
Before being purchased by Fabbri, the work belonged to Vollard. In 1894 (at the death of Father Tanguy), the man who commissioned his portrait in 1899 (Portrait d’Ambroise Vollard, Paris, Petit Palais) became his dealer and dedicated a first exhibition to the artist in 1895 in the gallery on rue Laffitte. Abricots et cerises sur une assiette then passed through the hands of two other historical dealers: Paul Rosenberg and Bernheim-Jeune. In 1932, Abricots et cerises sur une assiette entered the collection of George Renand. At his death in 1968, other than three landscapes and a portrait of Madame Cézanne in 1877, it was the only and unique jewel of the genre to testify to the modern vision of he who for over thirty years was one of the greatest private collectors in Paris and the entire world.