1860 - 1940
NATURE MORTE AUX POIRES
signed and dated l.r.: R O'Conor 96
oil on canvas
45.5 by 54.5cm., 18 by 21½in.
The canvas is lined and providing a secure and stable structural support. There are some faint traces of craquelure between the pears and small jug on left hand side, only visible upon close inspection. Overall the work appears in good condition.
Ultraviolet light reveals areas of retouching in the red cloth along the lower edge and further areas along the left, upper and right edges, mainly in upper right corner. Some further small flecks in the large pot.
Held in a painted plaster frame, ready to hang.
"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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Hotel Drouot, Paris, Vent O'Conor, 7 February 1956;
Libert, Paris, 23 March 1981;
Private collection from 2006
Jonathan Benington, Roderic O'Conor, Dublin, 1992, no.47 (as Still life with pitcher, jug and pears), p.195
Following Gauguin’s final departure from France in 1895, the Pont-Aven School entered a period of dispersal and retrenchment. In O’Conor’s case, showing loyalty to Gauguin’s championing of the primitive over the civilised, removal to a more remote location within Brittany was the answer. Settling in rural Rochefort-en-terre, far from the amenities of the railway and busy hostelries, he rethought his approach, temporarily abandoning landscapes in favour of still lifes and figure subjects evincing a more restrained commitment to stylistic experiment.
In paintings such as the present work he avoided overtly expressive gestures and colours so as to let the subject speak for itself. The composition retains the simplicity of his earlier still lifes of fruit, with a few everyday objects arranged in a pyramidal configuration, but with the added introduction – probably for the first time – of brightly coloured drapes. The pink and red cloths contribute a decorative dimension, complementing the green pears, whilst emphasising the role of stage-setting in preparing this work. Precedents can be found in Gauguin’s Still Life – Fête Gloanec displayed in Pont-Aven’s Hôtel Gloanec, showing two pears on a vermilion table, as well as the earthy still lifes with allusions to Japanese prints painted by Meyer de Haan and Gauguin as part of their decorative scheme for Marie Henry’s inn at Le Pouldu. However, the Irishman’s independence shines through in his uncluttered design and avoidance of Synthetist outlines.