This painting is one of Paul Cézanne’s most stunning masterpieces and one of the symbols of his great mastery of still life painting. Domenica Walter paid a vast sum for it in 1952. This sensational purchase attracted public attention both to her and to her magnificent collection.
Here Cézanne created a very balanced composition with just a plate and a few apples arranged on a chest. His experiments into stylising forms and expressing volume through colour are fully developed in this painting. In fact Cézanne painted many still lifes at a time when this was considered a minor genre and was rather neglected. He wanted to restore its prestige and "to conquer Paris with an apple". For Cézanne, the pure form of this fruit was a poetic symbol. It also alludes to his great friendship with Emile Zola (1840-1902), the future writer and journalist, and an old school friend, who once gave Cézanne some apples as thanks for a favour.
Provenance: Alphonse Kahn, Saint-Germain-en-Laye; Marczell de Nèmes, Budapest; sale of the Nèmes Collection, Paris, 18 June 1913, no. 87 (repr. cat.); Biermann; Baron M. de Herzog, Budapest; Paul Rosenberg, Paris; Durand-Ruel, Paris-New York; G. Cognacq, Paris; Cognacq sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 14 May 1952, no. 28 (cat. pl. XXVI), awarded to Domenica Walter.