PotD - Take a Chance on The National Gallery

Inspired by David Ames’ Monday Motivation shuffle, for this week only, Susan Omand hits the Take a Chance button on the National Gallery website and writes about what she sees...

What’s the painting called, who is the artist and when was it painted?

The Stove in the Studio by  Paul Cézanne in about 1865

What does The National Gallery say about it?

This view of the artist's studio was probably painted in Paris. During this period Cézanne divided his time between his native Aix-en-Provence and Paris, and the picture evokes the privation of his Bohemian existence in the capital. On the right a single flower stands in a vase on a table. A canvas stretcher is visible behind the stove, and a palette and what may be a small picture hang on the wall at the left.

The first owner of this work was Cézanne's boyhood friend, the writer Emile Zola.

A clearer look at the painting (details brightened using Photoshop)

What’s interesting about the painting?

For me, the interest is two-fold. Firstly, for a still life, the only organic “living thing” here is the fire. Normally there would be fruit, flowers, some hint of the “life” in still life. The other interesting thing is the way the red of the fire is carried throughout the painting in little dots and dabs of colour, on the palette, the painting, the edge of the cooking pots and bottles, even down to the same colour being used for the signature, which draws the eye round in a circle through what could otherwise be a very monochrome image.

What do I personally like about the painting?

I like the composition and the “bits” in the background which are, to me, more interesting than the foreground image, as they build the story. I also really like the way the natural stroke of the brush has been used to add texture and solidity to the objects.

What do I personally not like about the painting?

It’s difficult to find anything to “not like” as the boldness of the shapes appeals to my love of the abstract. Although the wonkiness of the stove, however deliberately done, irritates me.

Would I have it on my wall?

Yes (and I aspire to a studio that tidy!)

Image - The National Gallery

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