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Cézanne painted still lifes throughout his career, but the greatest of them date from his last years. This composition of 1902–1906 is one of several with fruit, vegetables, crockery and pieces of cloth arranged on a table which still survives in his studio at Aix. The objects relate to the folds of the table carpet like motifs in a landscape. Perspective has been manipulated and details, such as the knob of the teapot lid, have been supressed to emphasise the autonomy of form over subject matter. As David Sylvester observed in 1962: 'As we look at the four spheres embraced by the ellipse of a plate in Still Life with Teapot, we don't really know if they are and which of them are apples, oranges, apricots and we don't care. What we know as we look at them, know it physically in our bodies, is the feeling of having the shape of a sphere, a shape that is perfectly compact, a shape that can touch similar shapes at one point only, a shape which has a very precise centre of gravity'.
oil on canvas
H 61.4 x W 74.3 cm
NMW A 2440
bequeathed by Gwendoline Davies, 1951