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Hello, I am Peter Jonathan Bell, Curator of European Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings at the Cincinnati Art Museum and co-organizer of this exhibition, One Each: Still Lifes by Cézanne, Pissarro and Friends. I will read interpretative materials that accompany this exhibition, including a brief introductory text, descriptions of the seven paintings on display and their labels.

One Each: Still Lifes by Cézanne, Pissarro and Friends

Still life painting has had a complex history since its earliest recognition as an independent genre in the 1600s. At that time, critics valued it lowest among subjects an artist could paint, branding it unoriginal imitation, and yet still lifes achieved incredible popularity among the art-buying public. Another peak of interest in the genre occurred in the mid-1800s, and thereafter it played a crucial role in major artistic movements from Impressionism to Cubism. 

Presented here are paintings by five artists who, in the mid-1860s, used still lifes to experiment with new techniques and pictorial aims in painting. In these years Pissarro, Manet, Cézanne, Bazille, and Monet, were modernizing painting, creating a style—Impressionism—that would polarize the art world and have a profound impact on art to come.

Camille Pissarro wrote “Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”

Paul Cézanne wrote “Our canvases will turn the [art establishment] red-faced with rage and exasperation.”

The combination of familiar subjects and revolutionary intent captured by these two quotes gets to the crux of the matter. Everyday objects—tablecloth, drinking glass, knife, fish, bread, lemon—are so familiar that the mind catalogues them at a glance, allowing the eye to quickly move beyond the “what” to the “how” of the artistic feat of representation. The artists’ methods of making are put boldly on view—broad and emphatic brushwork, paint sculpted on the canvas. The Impressionists termed this audacious rebalancing of priorities and values in an artwork “sincerity.” 


Still Life (Ontbijtstuk with Berkemeyer

Pieter Claesz (1597/98–1661), The Netherlands, Still Life (Ontbijtstuk with Berkemeyer), 1641, oil on canvas, 19 1/8 x 23 3/4 in. (48.6 x 60.3 cm), Cincinnati Art Museum; Mr. and Mrs. Harry S. Leyman Endowment and Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Walter J. Wichgar, 1987.151

Still Life with Bottle, Carafe, Bread, and Wine

Claude Monet (1840–1926), France, Still Life with Bottle, Carafe, Bread, and Wine, circa 1863–63, oil on canvas, 15 5/8 x 23 9/16 in. (36.7 x 59.9 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 2014.18.32

Still Life with Bread and Eggs

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), France, Still Life with Bread and Eggs, 1865, oil on canvas, 23 1/4 x 30 in. (59.1 x 76.2 cm), Cincinnati Art Museum; Gift of Mary E. Johnston, 1955.73

Fish (Still Life)

Édouard Manet (1832–1883), France, Fish (Still Life), 1864, oil on canvas, 28 15/16 x 36 3/8 in. (73.5 x 92.4 cm), Art Institute of Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1942.311

Still Life with Fish

Jean-Frederic Bazille (1841–1870), France, Still Life with Fish, 1866, oil on canvas, 25 x 32 ¼ in. (63.5 x 81.9 cm), Detroit Institute of Arts; Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, 1988.9

Still Life

Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), France, Still Life, 1867, oil on canvas, 31 7/8 x 39 ¼ in. (81 x 99.6 cm), Toledo Museum of Art; Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1949.6

Still Life

Georges Braque (1882–1963), France, Still Life, circa 1922, oil on canvas, 7 x 17 7/8 in. (17.8 x 45.4 cm), Cincinnati Art Museum; Gift of Mrs. J. Louis Ransohoff, 1963.531, © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris