History And Context
Modern still life reached unrivaled expression in the work of Paul Cézanne. As heir to the modern tradition begun by Jean Simeon Chardin, Cézanne expanded the scope and drama of this seemingly modest genre, one that only gained significant stature as a subject in the mid-nineteenth century. Within Cézanne’s oeuvre, still life reaches its apogee in the 1890s when the artist’s now-familiar vocabulary of objects appeared and reappeared in a wide variety of compositions. Among the most constant elements were a plate, a ginger pot and richly folded pieces of cloth or drapery. Apples and pears frequently joined the composition, in piles or clusters or strewn across the table. Cézanne placed each element precisely in relation to the next. In Ginger Pot with Pomegranate and Pears, the artist adds depth and complexity to the space 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 like a curtain. Remarkably, Cézanne brings together simple kitchen objects to make a still life that seems baroque in its richly rendered color and surface and its complex rhythms and relationships. In short the artist infuses simple objects with movement and vitality, bringing nature morte to life.
The fact that this painting was once in the collection of Claude Monet in Giverny adds to its historical interest and testifies to the friendship that existed between these two giants of modernism.