Oil on canvas
65 × 80 cm (25 7/16 × 31 1/2 in.)
Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection
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.