Painted in 1864 in Manet's apartment at Boulevard des Batignolles Deux poires was included in the celebrated Paris World's Fair exhibition of 1867 (Fig. 1). Weary of the constant rejections from the official Salon, Manet followed Courbet's example of 1855 and built his own pavilion and staged a one man show of fifty of his paintings.
Courbet did likewise, and their two one man shows became the centre of attraction for anybody interested in the progress of those who had dethroned Ingres. An explanatory notice, apparently written by Astruc, pointed out 'since 1861, Monsieur Manet has been exhibiting or attempting to exhibit. This year he decided to offer directly to the public a collection of his works....The artist does not say, today: 'Come and look at works without fault,' but: 'Come and look at sincere works.' It is sincerity which endows works of art with a character that makes them resemble a protest, although the painter has only intended to convey his impression. Monsieur Manet has never desired to protest. On the contrary, it has been against him, who did not expect it, that there has been a protest, because there exists a traditional teaching about forms, methods, aspects, painting; because those brought up on such principles do not admit any others...To exhibit is the vital question...for the artist, because it happens that after several examinations people become familiar with what surprised them and, if you will, shocked them. Little by little they understand and accept it...For the painter, it is thus only a question of conciliating the public, which has been his so-called enemy' (Quoted in J. Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1973, p. 171).
Emile Roche (1893-1990), a distinguished collector as well as statesman, owned the present work from 1952 and it has remained with the family to the present day. Other works owned by Roche in this sale include Seurat's A pas tremblants, lot 4 and Picasso's La danseuse, lot 8. Emile Roche was Président of the French Conseil économique from 1954 to 1974.