Lot 441
  • 441

ÉMILE BERNARD | Nature morte aux oranges à l'éventail

150,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • Émile Bernard
  • Nature morte aux oranges à l'éventail
  • Signed Emile Bernard and dated 1895 (toward lower left)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 23 7/8 by 33 in.
  • 60.6 by 83.8 cm
  • Painted in 1895.


Mme Andrée Bernard-Fort, Paris (the artist's widow)
Galerie La Cave, Paris
Private Collection, Europe
Acquired from the above circa 2009 by the present owner


Dallas, Valley House Gallery, Émile Bernard, 1962, no. 19, illustrated in the catalogue


Jean-Jacques Luthi, Émile Bernard, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1982, no. 493, illustrated p. 75


The canvas is lined. There is a web of thin stable craquelure throughout the composition. There is some extremely minor frame abrasion along the upper and lower edges. In the center of the composition, there are two pindot areas of pigment losses in the white textile, which have been retouched. Under UV inspection, there are strokes of inpainting along the upper and lower edges, likely to address frame abrasion. There are some strokes of inpainting along the upper four inches of the upper left and right edges. There are pindot strokes of inpainting in the green and aqua pigments in the upper right quadrant, to the right of the pink vase. There are a couple of nailhead strokes of inpainting in the pink flowers toward the center of the upper edge. There is a nailhead sized area of inpainting in the white textile to the left of the green fruit. There are a couple pindot areas of inpainting in the area where the white textile obscures the green fruit in the center of the composition, likely to address prior pigment losses. The work is in overall good condition.
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.

Catalogue Note

Bernard proved himself to be a precocious student who absorbed new ideas quickly, but his work up until the mid-1880s was still fairly tentative. In the spring of 1887 however, partly with the aim of creating a visual equivalent to literary Symbolism, he and Louis Anquetin began to develop a style inspired by Japanese Ukijo-e woodblock prints and stained glass, with flat areas of color surrounded by bold outlines, and to produce fully resolved paintings.

Over precisely the same period, Paul Cézanne’s fascination with the genre of still life was evolving and arguably reached its pinnacle in the late 1880s and early 1890s, when he began to move away from dense networks of impasto and strict frontality in favor of more complex and dramatic spatial arrangements. Bernard first encountered the older artist’s work in 1886 at the Parisian paint supply shop run by Julien-François Tanguy and recalled the astonishing impression that Cézanne’s still lifes made on him: “apples round as if done with compasses, triangular pears, crooked bowls, abundantly folded napkins" (quoted in “Paul Cézanne,” in Les Hommes d'aujourd'hui, Paris, 1890, n.p.). 

The influence of Cézanne on Bernard's still lifes was an enduring one, and the two artists maintained a warm correspondence. Almost thirty years Cézanne’s junior, Bernard continued to benefit from the older artist’s technical advice as well as his teasing reprovals: “For us men, nature has more depth than surface,” Cézanne wrote to him in 1904, “hence the need to introduce in our vibrations of light, represented by reds and yellows, enough blue tints to give a feeling of air... I would like to say that I have had another look at your study of the ground floor of the studio, it is good. All you need do, I think, is to continue along these lines, you have an understanding of what ought to be done, and you will soon be able to turn your back on the Gauguins and Van Goghs!” (Alex Danchev, ed., The Letters of Paul Cézanne, Los Angeles, 2016, n.p.).

Béatrice Recchi Altabarra has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.