Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit (La Bouteille De Cognac)

Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit (La Bouteille De Cognac)

photo: Bruce M. White
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About This Work

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906)
Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit, 1906
Watercolor and soft graphite on pale buff wove paper
48 x 62-.5 cm. (18 7/8 x 24 5/8 in.)


Artist’s son, Paul Cézanne (1872–1947), Paris. Baron F., Paris. [Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris]. Aldus Chapin Higgins (1872–1948), Worcester, Mass.; by descent to his widow Mary S. Higgins, Worcester, Mass.; by descent to estate of Mary S. Higgins, sold at auction, Parke-Bernet, New York, 10 Mar. 1971, lot 13; bought at auction by Henry Pearlman; Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, after 1974.

Conservator's Note

Throughout most of this watercolor, overlapping patches of translucent wash create a third luminous color against the light paper, whereas densely applied patches of color in the bottle create an opaque layer that obscures the paper completely.

Although much of the graphite is an underdrawing beneath the watercolor, an occasional graphite mark crosses over watercolor strokes, indicating that Cézanne returned to the watercolor with graphite. It appears as if he then applied additional strokes of watercolor over some of the graphite, so that a single graphite mark may pass on top of one stroke of watercolor and lie beneath another.

Critical Perspective

At once ephemeral and monumental, this luminous still life is believed to be one of the final three watercolors made by Cézanne. In comparison with the earlier Three Pears (about 1888–90), in which the boldly outlined fruits project their physicality, the transparent and opaque forms in this work dissolve into a web of vibrating lines and overlapping color patches.