European Art: 19th Century

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Tulips in a Vase, 1888-1890

Paul CĂ©zanne

French, 1839-1906
Oil on paper, mounted on board
28-1/2 x 16-1/2 in. (72.4 x 41.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Paul Cézanne began painting floral still lifes in the 1870s alongside his friend and mentor Camille Pissarro. Yet even as he moved away from the older artist’s influence and deeper into his own experimental style, Cézanne continued to paint flowers, including these tulips, an unusual species in his work. Rare, too, is the picture’s vertical format, presenting the tabletop fruit, the earthenware pot—a souvenir of Cézanne’s native Provence—the thick, waxy leaves, and bright blooms in an abstract, niche-like space. Possibly painted during a visit to his wife in Paris around 1889, the picture was first exhibited fifteen years later at the Salon d’Automne in Paris, where it fired the imaginations of a new avant-garde: the generation of Matisse.

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