Look carefully at Plate 1.3.24, Cezanne??™s Jug and Fruits (1885-87), and Plate 1.3.30, Zurbaran??™s Still Life with lemons, Oranges and a Rose (1663). In no more than 500 words, outline what you think are the main differences between them.
The paintings described and compared above are Cezanne??™s Jug and Fruits (1885-87) and Zurbaran??™s Still Life with lemons, Oranges and a Rose (1663). First of all, we have to keep in mind that these two paintings were created in different eras. The first one is a fine example of the artistic movement of Impressionism, which was the pioneer of modern art, while the second one represents the traditional form of painting. Additionally, Cezanne??™s opinion on traditional painting was negative. As Harrison suggests, ???he hated this kind of work and everything it stood for??™ (Harrison, 2008, p.67).
Comparing these paintings, we can identify several differences. The first one is the delineation and modeling of the objects. Zurbaran??™s objects are painted carefully in every detail. His still life is represented as it is in reality and the picture plain is apparent as the fruit look so fresh and juicy that the viewer feels like he can reach his hand, take one and eat it. On the contrary, Cezanne??™s fruit and jug are roughly shaped and painted. Their shape is awkward and unbeautiful but this is exactly what the artist meant for it to be. According to Harrison, it was in the artist??™s intention to differentiate himself from the academic standard of his time (ibid, p.67).
Another difference is found in the light and coulour of the paintings. Cezanne??™s painting is lit from the lower right corner creating shadows on the left of the objects, giving depth and he uses a restricted range of colours. The blue background is juxtaposed with the central orange pear, as well as the brown shades of the table are juxtaposed with the green fruit. His narrow range of tonal values and limited palette of colours give a sense of calm and serenity (???Composition??™, 2010). The artist might have wanted to show in this gathering of similar objects that there would always be one that makes a difference. On the other hand there is Zurbaran??™s painting which is lit from the upper left corner. The light is bright on the fruit, where he uses tint to make them even brighter and a wide tonal range, emphasising on the coolness of the picture rather than the warmth Cezanne??™s painting projects.
In addition, as far as the texture is concerned, Cezanne has roughly applied broad, expressive, multidirectional brush strokes using the painterly technique and his fruits look rustic but solid to the viewer, while Zurbaran has applied his paint thinly, mixing the colours smoothly, using the linear technique (???Composition??™, 2010). Zurbaran??™s painting looks like a photograph, but that was highly expected in his time. Finally, the message of mortality can be identified mostly in Cezanne??™s painting as the orange pear in the middle can represent life, while the brown pear in the bottom-right corner may be death.
One can say that these paintings have more differences than similarities, or may even try to compare the impact they have on viewer??™s eyes and emotions. It is important to identify aspects and techniques of art, to respect each form, but what is beautiful or not lies on the eyes of the beholder.
Harrison, C. (2008) ???Cezanne??™ in Moohan, E. (ed) Reputations (AA100 Book 1), Milton Keynes, The Open University. pp. 55-84.
???Composition??™ (2010) (AA100 online video), Milton Keynes, The Open University