Paul Cézanne
French, 1839–1906
The Basket of Apples
c. 1893

Oil on canvas
25 7/16 x 31 1/2 in. (65 x 80 cm)
Inscribed at lower left: P. Cézanne
Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.252

After a brief period in Paris, Paul Cézanne returned to his native town, Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France. There, he devoted himself to portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. Wishing to make (in his own words) something "solid and durable, like the art of the museums" out of Impressionism, Cézanne sought out the structural regularity of his subjects. By repeating the round and angular shapes in The Basket of Apples, the artist demonstrated his formalist approach.

Despite his attention to the shapes and structures of his subjects, Cézanne animated the objects in the painting. He placed the basket of apples on one of his characteristic tilted tables; it careens forward from a slablike base that appears to upset rather than support it. Upon closer inspection, the tabletop seems to be fractured, since it emerges on the right side at a different level than on the left. Cézanne's use of geometric form and disjointed perspective made him an inspiration to Pablo Picasso, Cubism, and abstract art of the 20th century.