Collection Comparisons: Cézanne’s Still Lifes

In the Collection Comparisons series, we pair one work from Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland with a similar work from the Phillips’s own permanent collection.

Collection Comparison_Cezanne

(left) Paul Cézanne, Glass and Apples, 1879–1882. Oil on canvas, 12 3/8 x 15 3/4 in. The Rudolf Staechelin Collection © Kunstmuseum Basel, Martin P. Bühler (right) Paul Cézanne, Ginger Pot with Pomegranate and Pears, 1893. Oil on canvas, 18 1/4 x 21 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift of Gifford Phillips in memory of his father, James Laughlin Phillips, 1939

Paul Cézanne painted almost 200 still lifes over the course of four decades. By the late 1870s, he focused on household items, such as clusters of fruit, cloth, and a vessel. In 1879, Cézanne produced a series of 11 still lifes, each arranged on a chest set before bluish floral wallpaper. Rudolf Staechelin purchased Glass and Apples, at left above, in 1918.

Painted over a decade later, The Phillips Collection’s Ginger Pot with Pomegranate and Pears by Cézanne (above right, and on view in a gallery adjacent to the special exhibition) shares formal motifs with the Staechelin example, including a display of fruit set on furniture before similar wallpaper. Both paintings were formerly owned by Impressionist artists: the Phillips still life was in Claude Monet’s collection, while Staechelin’s canvas was featured in Ambroise Vollard’s first solo show of Cézanne’s work in 1895 and shortly thereafter purchased by Edgar Degas for 400 francs.

Close inspection of the two works side by side also reveals a key difference. While Cézanne keeps the focus in the foreground in Glass and Apples, the artist adds depth and complexity to Ginger Pot with Pomegranate and Pears by including a second table in the upper left portion of the painting as well as an artfully arranged piece of patterned cloth that hangs along the top edge of the composition.

Behind-the-Scenes: Installing Gauguin to Picasso

install in process_1_Renee Maurer

Paul Gauguin’s NAFEA faaipoipo (When Will You Marry?) gets an inspection before hanging in in the Phillips’s galleries. Photo: Renee Maurer

Phillips Curator Renee Maurer and Associate Registrar for Exhibitions Trish Waters snapped photos as Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland, The Staechelin & Im Obersteg Collections was installed early last month.

install in process_3_Renee Maurer

Installing Paul Gauguin’s NAFEA faaipoipo (When Will You Marry?). Photo: Renee Maurer

install in process_4_L Renee Maurer R Trish Waters

(left) Installing works by Alexej von Jawlensky. Photo: Renee Maurer (right) Curator Renee Maurer with Chaim Soutine’s Child with a Toy. Photo: Trish Waters

install in process_2_Renee Maurer

Installing works by Alexej von Jawlensky. Photo: Renee Maurer

install in process_5_Trish Waters

(left) The installation team with Pablo Picasso’s The Absinthe Drinker [verso: Woman at the Theater]. Photo: Trish Waters (right) Putting the finishing touches on a frame. Photo: Trish Waters

Making a Mural, Starting with a Pool

Of his artistic process, mural artist James Bullough says, “Every wall is a slightly different process…I normally start with the dark areas and work toward the light areas and just kind of move like a printer from one section of the painting all the way down.” Read more about the mural, and parts one and two of a larger interview with Bullough.