Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)

Feuilles dans un pot vert

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
Feuilles dans un pot vert
watercolor on paper
18¾ x 12¼ in. (47.5 x 30.5 cm.)
Painted in 1890-1892
Paul Cézanne fils, Paris.
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris.
Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Dusseldorf and Berlin.
Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne.
Joseph Stransky, New York (by 1936).
Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, December 27, 1944.
Marees-Gesellschaft, Die Aquarellen Cézanne, 1918, no. 5 (illustrated in color).
J. Meier-Graefe, Cézanne-Mappe, Munich, 1918, pl. 5 (illustrated in color).
Der Querschnitt, April 1927 (illustrated after p. 286).
J. Meier-Graefe, Cézanne, London, 1927, pl. 82 (illustrated).
E. d'Ors, Paul Cézanne, Paris, 1930, p. 78 (illustrated, pl. xxi).
R. Flint, "The Private Collection of Joseph Stransky", in Art News, XXIX, 1931, pp. 87-88, no. 33 (illustrated, p. 101).
P.B. Cott, "The Stransky Collection of Modern Art," in Worcester Art Museum Bulletin, vol. XXIII, 1933, p. 137, no. IV (illustrated).
"French Masters of the XIX and XX Centuries: The Private Collection of Josef Stransky," in Art News, May 1935 (illustrated).
L. Venturi, Cézanne, son art, son oeuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. I, p. 280, no. 1117 (illustrated, vol. II, p. 323).
R. Cogniat, Cézanne, Paris, 1939, p. 110 (illustrated).
G. Nicodemi, Cézanne, 76 Disegni, Milan, 1944, pl. 47 (illustrated).
E.A. Jewell, Paul Cézanne, New York, 1944, p. 38, pl. 21 (illustrated in color).
G. Schildt, Paul Cézannes Personlighet och Konst, Stockholm, 1947, p. 176, pl. 56 (illustrated).
Cézanne, 10 Water Colors, New York, 1947 (illustrated in color). A Treasury of Art Masterpieces, New York, 1952 (illustrated).
G. Schmidt, Aquarelle von Paul Cézanne, Basel, 1952, p. 29 (illustrated in color, pl. 21).
Cézanne 10 Watercolors, New York, 1957 (illustrated in color).
Y. Taillandier, Paul Cézanne, Paris, 1961, p. 85 (illustrated).
J. Coplans, Cézanne Watercolors, 1967, p. 9 (illustrated).
J. Siblík, Paul Cézanne Dessins, Prague, 1968 (illustrated, pl. XI).
J. Rewald, Paul Cézanne, The Watercolors: A Catalogue Raisonné, Boston, 1983, p. 174, no. 374 (illustrated).
(possibly) Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, 1907, no. 26.
(possibly) Berlin, Galerie Paul Cassirer, 1907, no. 22.
Cologne, Sonderbund, October 1912, no. 151.
Dusseldorf, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Eröffnungs-Katalog, 1913, p. 58 (illustrated).
Berlin, Galerie Paul Cassirer, Cézanne-Ausstellung, November-December 1921, p. 47, no. 53.
Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, 1927, no. 6.
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., January 1928, (possibly) no. 2.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Summer Exhibition, June-September 1930, no. 17.
Worcester Art Museum, 1933 (on extended loan).
London, Wildenstein & Co., Ltd., Collection of a Collector (Private Collection of Josef Stransky), 1936, no. 16.
Basel, Kunsthalle, 1936, no. 76 (titled Fliederstrauss).
New York, Marie Harriman Gallery, Cézanne Centennial, November-December 1939, no. 24.
Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Watercolors by Paul Cézanne, December 1939-January 1940, no. 3 (illustrated; illustrated again on the cover).
Washington D.C., Whyte Gallery, Nineteenth Century French Masters, March 1943, no. 1 (illustrated).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., French Pastels and Drawings from Clouet to Degas, February-March 1944, no. 100.
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Cézanne, March-April 1947, no. 72 (illustrated).
The Art Institute of Chicago and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cézanne, Paintings, Watercolors & Drawings, 1952, p. 56, no. 60 (illustrated).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Magic of Flowers in Painting, April-May 1954, no. 8.
New York, Fine Art Associates (Otto Gerson), Cézanne Watercolors, January-February 1956, no. 9 (illustrated).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Cézanne, November-December 1959, no. 73 (illustrated).
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., A Loan Exhibition of Cézanne Watercolors for the benefit of the Art Scholarship Fund, April 1963, no. 32 (illustrated, pl. XXIX).

Lot Essay

While Cézanne painted as large a variety of subjects as any of his fellow Impressionists, the number of his flower paintings is relatively few--about 35 oils and 20 watercolors--when compared to those of Monet or Renoir, or in relation to his own still-lifes of other objects. Because they lack hard, volumetric forms, flowers as evanescent, delicate and pretty decorations appear to have held less interest for Cézanne than they did for his colleagues, except where they might serve as color accents in a larger composition. He often braced floral blossoms in his still-lifes with a substantial arrangement of leafy cuttings to add weight to this motif, or, as seen in this watercolor, he was perfectly content to paint the plant leaves alone. The artist appears to have been drawn to the profusion of similarly shaped forms spilling forth from the simple shape of the pot. He deliberately tilted the leaf stems, probably cut from a begonia plant, to one side of the sheet, to lend the composition a precariously balanced but still pleasingly asymmetric and dynamic effect.

No less an important element in this picture is the pot itself, or more precisely, an olive jar of a common kind manufactured in Marseilles and characterized by the application of a green glaze over the upper part of its surface. Cézanne prized this humble vessel for its opalescent viridian tint, and as Rewald has noted (op. cit.), this type of pot features in numerous still-lifes, beginning with Pot vert et bouilloire d'étain, 1867-1869 (Rewald Paintings, no. 137; Musée d'Orsay, Paris). An example of this jar may be seen today in the preserved interior of the artist's studio at Les Lauves in Aix (fig. 1).

The present watercolor is in essence a symphony in green, in which Cézanne has carried the predominant green tonality over from the leaves onto the surface of the olive jar. Rewald has carefully described the remarkable subtlety of these tints and the artist's use of adjacent contrasting tones: ''The green olive-jar throws a slight bluish-purple shadow on the table, whose round shape is indicated by a reddish-brown-purple contour. In the absence of a preparatory pencil drawing, the jar and especially the leaves are strongly outlined with blue-purple brushstrokes. The leaves themselves of this bouquet, devoid of any flowers, are of a strong emerald green; between them appear blue and pinkish-purple spots that seem strewn over the entire sheet. The colors are applied in rather large, superimposed spots, some of them put on so spontaneously that they ran into each other" (op. cit.).

Rewald went on to cite the description of this watercolor in the 1963 Knoedler exhibition catalogue: ''The contrast between the warm tones of the table and the blues and greens of the leaves sets each object off as an entity; yet the characteristic use of the brush and the repetition of ovoid shapes unite the composition as a whole." The mingling and unity of like and contrasting forms was indeed the artist's aim, and the overall effect derives as much from that which the artist left out as from that which he painted in. Cézanne skillfully adapted the small taches of veil-like watercolor he employed in depicting the flattened and atmospheric sense of broad and distant space seen in the landscapes, to the more precisely delineated and individuated forms in this still-life composition. Here each element contributes its own particular portion of visual weight and mass to the overall appearance of these physical objects, as rendered in a spatial context of near proximity.

The first owner of this important and frequently exhibited watercolor was Joseph Stransky (1872-1936), the Czech-born musician who served as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1911-1923, following the brief but fabled tenure of the composer and conductor Gustav Mahler.

(fig. 1) The interior of Cézanne's studio in Les Lauves, Aix, as preserved and seen today. The green Marseilles jar is visible on the table among other still-life objects. Photo courtesy of the Atelier Paul Cézanne. BARCODE 25238532

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