This picture is closely related to Still Life: Flowers, 1885 (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), which depicts the same vase—with its distinctive elephant-head handles—and wood table or dresser. Featuring an autumnal bouquet and Cézannesque arrangement of prickly pears, the present still life was likely painted the same year, in the wake of a visit with Cézanne that summer. At this time, Renoir sought to combine the luminosity of Impressionism with a greater degree of classicism, prompting him to explore techniques that would emulate the dry, light colors of Italian frescoes, which have led to some surface cracks.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): Renoir.
[Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York; presumably bought from the artist; sent in April 1888 from Paris to New York; probably sold to Lambert, apparently in 1888]; Catholina Lambert, Belle Vista Castle, Paterson, N.J. (by 1889–99; consigned before September 1889 to Durand-Ruel, New York, stock no. 736; sold on April 4, 1899, to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1899–1916; stock no. 2206; sold on February 23, 1916, to Robinson]; Mrs. Nelson Robinson, New York (1916–17; sold on January 13, 1917, to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, NewYork, 1917–28; stock no. 4058; sold on September 9, 1928, to Crocker]; Mrs. William Henry Crocker, Hillsborough, Calif. (1928–d. 1934); her son, William W. Crocker, Burlingame and Hillsborough (1934–d. 1964; his estate, 1964–70; sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, February 25, 1970, no. 8, as "Nature morte aux fleurs et figues de barbarie," for $280,000 to Gaisman); Henry J. Gaisman, Hartsdale, N.Y. (1970–d. 1974); his widow, Catherine V. Gaisman, Hartsdale and Greenwich, Conn. (1974–d. 2010)
New York. Durand-Ruel. "Paintings by Renoir," February 7–21, 1914, no. 22.
Pittsburgh. Carnegie Institute. "Exhibition of Art and Science in Gardens," June 18–July 31, 1922, no. 115.
New York. Durand-Ruel Galleries. "Exhibition of Still Life and Flower Pieces," February 7–24, 1923, no. 23 (as "Fleurs et fruits").
Pittsburgh. Carnegie Institute. "Exhibition of Paintings: Édouard Manet, Pierre Renoir, Berthe Morisot," October 15–December 1, 1924, no. 30 (as "Flowers and Fruit," lent by Messrs. Durand-Ruel).
New York. Durand-Ruel Galleries. "Exhibition of Still Life and Flowers," March 19–April 9, 1927, no. 25 (as "Fleurs et Fruits").
Buffalo. Albright Art Gallery. "Selection of Nine Paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir from the Studios of Durand-Ruel, Inc.," June 17–August 5, 1928, no. 3 (as "Fleurs et fruits").
San Francisco Museum of Art. "Renoir Oils, Lithographs," July 11–August 12, 1936, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Renoir: A Special Exhibition of His Paintings," May 18–September 12, 1937, no. 42 (as "Still Life with Flowers and Prickly Pears," lent by Mr. and Mrs. William W. Crocker).
New York. Duveen Galleries. "Renoir, Centennial Loan Exhibition, 1841-1941," November 8–December 6, 1941, no. 52 (as "Nature Morte—Fleurs et Cactus [Still-Life—Flowers and Prickly Pears]," lent by Mr. and Mrs. William W. Crocker, Burlinghame, California).
Julius Meier-Graefe. Renoir. Leipzig, 1929, p. 176, fig. 170, calls it "Stilleben" and dates it 1884; gives location as "Privatsammlung Durand-Ruel, New York".
Harry B. Wehle. Renoir: A Special Exhibition of His Paintings. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 42, ill., dates it 1884.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. Renoir, Centennial Loan Exhibition, 1841–1941. Exh. cat., Duveen Galleries. New York, 1941, pp. 74, 150, no. 52, ill., dates it about 1884; characterizes it as "one of the most complete of this period" and notes "a similar painting [...] showing only the white vase and flowers on a table, against a similar background".
"Eight Valuable Paintings Missing from Mansion." New York Times (March 21, 1965), p. 76, calls it "Still Life With Prickly Pears"; states that it was one of the paintings reported missing from the home of the late W. W. Crocker, Hillsborough, Calif.
"3 Seized on Coast in Theft of Crocker Art Collection." New York Times (April 25, 1965), p. 65, states that it has been recovered from a warehouse in Houston.
"Van Goghs in Sale at Parke-Bernet." New York Times (February 22, 1970), p. 88, lists it among the works to be sold on February 25, 1970.
Elda Fezzi. L'opera completa di Renoir. [reprint ed., 1981]. Milan, 1972, p. 116, no. 610, ill., calls it "Fiori in un vaso e frutta," dates it [about?] 1885, and gives its location as unknown.
Vivian Endicott Barnett. The Guggenheim Museum: Justin K. Thannhauser Collection. New York, 1978, p. 191 under no. 70, calls it "Still Life: Flowers and Prickly Pears," whereabouts unknown, and notes that it is usually dated 1884; observes that it depicts the same vase as "Still Life: Flowers," 1885 (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), whose table is similar but whose background color and pattern are more subdued.
Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville. Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles. Vol. 2, 1882–1894. Paris, 2009, p. 17, no. 706, ill.
Susan Alyson Stein in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2010–2012." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Fall 2012).