The Buffet Paul Cézanne


Paul Cézanne Aix-en-Provence, 1839 – Aix-en-Provence, 1906

Date: 1877
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions: 65.5 x 81 cm
Type: painting
Inventory number: 371.B
Collection: Department of Art after 1800

Cézanne spent most of his life in the town where he was born, Aix-en-Provence. The Budapest still-life was made in the coastal town of Estaque near Aix and Marseille, where Cézanne moved several times.
When the picture was painted in the mid-1870s Cézanne was friends with the most important Impressionist painters: Pissarro, Monet and Renoir. At this time, the palette of his earlier so-called Baroque-style paintings gave way to lighter colours, but rather than the Impressionists’ method of painting he was preoccupied with capturing what is lasting and permanent. He regularly studied works in museums, plaster cast collections, and reproductions in art journals. Just as the poetry of Charles Baudelaire can be viewed as the culmination of previous movements, so can Cézanne’s still-lifes from the 1870s, for which he studied the compositions of Chardin and seventeenth-century Spanish still-life painters. Cézanne used what he learnt from still-lifes in his portraits and landscapes too.
The still-lifes make up a considerable part of his oeuvre, and several of them were expressions of the artist’s momentary state of mind. The Budapest still-life expresses symmetry in asymmetry. The top and the shelf of the buffet are linked by a full bottle of wine, as a solid point between the fragile white porcelain cups, the wine-glass, the rumpled white tea-cloth and the mound of feather-light ladyfingers.

Judit Geskó

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