Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906)
Oil on canvas; 23 7/8 x 29 in. (60.6 x 73.7 cm)
H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.66)
The still-life genre was central to Cézanne's art in the 1870s. The distinctive patterned wallpaper in this work marks a departure from the artist's typical neutral backgrounds, and the V shapes of the wallpaper's design are mirrored in the white cloth napkin draped over the edge of the chest. The napkin has been interpreted as an inverted reference to Mont Sainte-Victoire, one of Cézanne's favorite landscape motifs, with the mountain's ridges and valleys evoked by the deep folds in the cloth. Such formal analogies reveal the deliberate structure underlying his still-life compositions, which he often used for formal and technical experimentation. Cézanne's application of paint in discrete touches possibly reflects his assimilation of the Impressionist technique.