Nature morte, poire et pommes vertes
[Tableau attribié à Paul Cézanne]
This work is a very simple still life, reduced to the essentials: four fruits, one pear and three green apples, or perhaps a peach and two plums, placed directly on the table. In the background is a bare wall. Another oil painting on card that belonged to Doctor Gachet, entitled Pêche et poire [Peach and Pear] appears to depict the same fruits. The painting in the Musée de l’Orangerie was probably part of a series painted in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1873.
However, there continues to be some doubt as to the authenticity of this work, prompted by the lack of brightness in the colours and a certain softness in the brushwork. Rejected by the art historian John Rewald in his catalogue raisonné of Cézanne’s works, published in 1996, it could be by Paul Gachet (1873-1962), son of the famous Doctor Gachet, friend of Cézanne and protector of Van Gogh. The younger Paul Gachet, a ‘pupil’ of Cézanne, learned to paint by copying the paintings in his father’s collection. Claiming to be an artist-painter, he signed his paintings Paul Van Ryssel.
This canvas apparently remained at Paul Gachet’s home until it was bought by Domenica Walter in 1951 through an intermediary, Methey or Mathey, in exchange for two paintings by Chaïm Soutine.