The Basket of Apples

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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

Rewald 800

Art, Paul Cézanne once claimed, is "a harmony running parallel to nature," not an imitation of nature. In his quest for underlying structure and composition, he recog-nized that the artist is not bound to represent real objects in real space. Thus, The Basket of Apples contains one of his signature tilted tables, an impossible rectangle with no right angles. On it, a basket of apples pitches forward from a slablike base, seemingly balanced by the bottle and the tablecloth’s thick, sculptural folds. The heavy modeling, solid brushstrokes, and glowing colors give the composition a density and dynamism that a more realistic still life could never possess. This painting, one of Cézanne’s rare signed works, was part of an important exhibition urged on the artist by the Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1895. Since Cézanne had spent the majority of his career painting in isolation in his native Provence, this was the first opportunity in nearly twenty years for the public to see the work of the artist who is now hailed as the father of modern painting.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2009, p. 230.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Galerie Vollard, Cézanne, November 1895, no cat.

Berlin, Paul Cassirer, 1908, cat. 17.

Paris, Manzi, Joyant & Cie, Exposition d’art moderne, 1912, cat. 3.

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Cézanne, December 1-18, 1920, cat. 28

Paris, Paul Rosenberg, Les Maîtres du siècle passé, May 3-June 3, 1922, cat. 9.

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition Paul Cézanne (au profit de la caisse du monument Cézanne), March 3-24, 1924, no cat. no.

Minneapolis Institute of Art, Modern French Paintings from the Birch-Bartlett Collection, 1925, no cat. no.

Boston Art Club, 1925, no cat. no.

Cambridge, Mass., Fogg Art Museum, French Painting of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, March 6-April 6, 1929, cat. 6 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, 1933, cat. 305.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Cézanne, 1934, cat. 17.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1-November 1, 1934, cat. 290.

The Art Institute of Chicago, The Bartlett Collection, 1946, no cat. no. (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings: A Loan Exhibition, February 1-March 16, 1952, cat. 54 (ill.), traveled to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 4-May 18, 1952.

Washington, D. C., The Phillips Collection, Cézanne: An Exhibition in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Phillips Collection, February 27-March 28, 1971, cat. 25 (ill.), traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, April 17-May 16, 1971 and Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, June 1-July 3, 1971 (shown only in Chicago).

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cézanne to Picasso Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde, September 13, 2006-January 7, 2007, cat. 44 (ill.), traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, February 17-May 13, 2007 and Musée d’Orsay, Paris, June 18-September 16, 2007.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, cat. 67.

Publication History

Emile Bernard, “Erinnerungen an Paul Cezanne,” Kunst und Künstler 6 (1908), p. 521 (ill.).

Julius Meier-Greafe, Paul Cézanne (Munich, 1910), p. 79 (ill.).

C. L. Hind, The Post-Impressionists (London, 1911), p. 74.

Frederick Lawton, “Paul Cézanne,” Art Journal (1911), p. 57 (ill.).

Werner Weisbach, Impressionismus: Ein Problem der Malerei in der Antike und Neuzeit vol. 2 (Berlin, 1911), p. 162.

Arsène Alexandre, “Exposition d’art moderne,” Les Arts (August 1912), p. 7, no. 6.

“A Private Collection in Germany That Contains Fourteen Examples of the Art of Paul Cezanne, a Great Modern, Who Already Is Placed with the Old Masters,” New York Times (July 6, 1913), p. 15 (ill.).

Charles Borgmeyer, The Master Impressionists (Chicago, 1913), p. 230 (ill.).

Julius Meier-Graefe, Paul Cézanne (Munich, 1913), p. 76.

Ambroise Vollard, Cézanne (Paris, 1914), p. 102, pl. 33.

Stuart, “Cézanne and His Place in Impressionism,” The Fine Arts Journal 35, 5 (May 1917), p. 335 (ill.).

C. Coquiot, Paul Cézanne (1919), p. 246.

Julius Meier-Graefe, Cezanne und sein Kreis (Munich, 1922), p. 185 (ill.).

L’Amour de l’Art 5, 2 (February 1924), p. 41 (ill.).

R. Tatlock, “The Courtlaud Trust,” The Art News 24 (June 12, 1926), p. 28, ill.

“Cezanne, Rousseau, Picasso,” The Art Institute of Chicago Bulletin 20 (1926), pp. 61-64 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report (1926), p. 16, ill.

Forbes Watson, “A Note on the Birch-Bartlett Collection,” The Arts 9 (1926), p. 304 (ill.).

Morton Dauwen Zabel, “An American Gallery of Modern Painting,” Art and Archeology 26, 6 (December 1928), pp. 227 (ill.). 232.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Paintings in the Helen Birch-Bartlett Memorial Collection (Chicago, 1929), pp. 8-9 (ill.).

A. Bertram, The World’s Masters–Cezanne (London, 1929), pl. 22.

Albert Franz Cochrane, “Fogg Museum Stages Magnificent Exhibition of French Art,” Boston Evening (March 9, 1929).

Clarence Bulliet, Apples and Madonnas (New York, 1930), p. 56.

Lionello Venturi, Cézanne: son art – son oeuvre vol. 1 (Paris, 1936), no. 600.

E. A. Jewell, Paul Cézanne (1944), p. 21 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (The Art Institute of Chicago, 1956), p. 36.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961), pp. 72-3.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84 (September 1966), p. 194, fig. 14.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (New York, 1970), p. 99 (ill.).

René Huyghe, La Relève du reel: impressionnisme, symbolisme (Paris, 1974), no. 191.

Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism (New York, 1980), pp. 408-9 (ill.).

Paul Cézanne, exh. cat. (Madrid, Museo Epañol de Arte Conemporáneo, 1984), p. 235 (ill.).

Richard R. Brettell, “The Bartletts and the Grande Jatte: Collecting Modern Paintings in the 1920s,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 12, 2 (1986), p. 105, no. 1 (ill.).

James Wood, Master Paintings in The Art Institute (Chicago, 1988), p. 69 (ill.).

Richard Verdi, Cézanne (London, 1992), p. 143, fig. 123.

John Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné (New York, 1996), vol. 1, p. 480, no. 800, vol. 2, p. 276 (ill.).

The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (New Haven and London, 2008), cat. 67, pp. 141-42 (ill.).

Ownership History

Ambroise Vollard, Paris by November 1895 [this and the following information according to New York 2006-7]; Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, by July 1907; sold to Paul Cassirer, Berlin in July 1907; sold to Bernheim-Jeune, Paris in November 1908. Jos Hessel, Paris by 1913 [based on inscription on reverse; see also New York Times 1913 and Borgmeyer 1913] and until at least 1920 [see Paris 1920]. Paul Rosenberg, Paris by 1922 [see Paris 1922]; sold to Frederick Clay Bartlett, Chicago [through Joseph Stransky of French Galleries, New York] by 1925; given to the Art Institute, 1926.