Expert Voices: Simon Shaw on Still Life Paintings of the William S. Paley Collection

New York | 14 — 15 November

Still life painting has always been a source of inspiration for artists and enthusiasts alike, however, perhaps no one has challenged and further progressed this artistic practice in Modern Art than Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, and Pierre Bonnard. As it just so happens, one still life work from each artist sit at the center of the William S. Paley Collection.

A symphonic array of form and pigment, Picasso’s Guitare sur une table from 1919 epitomizes the artist’s bold stylistic evolution in the years following the First World War. Drawing on the Cubist idiom pioneered alongside Braque beginning around 1907-08, Picasso’s still lifes from the subsequent decade reveal a heightened liveliness and levity paired with a dynamic and newfound appreciation of color.

Among the earliest and most harmonious of Rousseau's rare still lifes, Vase de fleurs à la branche de lierre, première version (1901-02) embodies the essential strengths of the artist. Rendered in a shallow, stage-like expanse, Rousseau’s ornamental flowers are carefully arrayed in variegated brushstrokes befitting their forms.

A scintillating vision of the domestic everyday, Nature morte from 1939 embodies the expressive possibilities of light and color. A superlative example of Pierre Bonnard’s late still lifes, Nature morte typifies the revolutionary vitalization of still life scenes that positions Bonnard as among the greatest twentieth-century pioneers of this genre.

These three works and more of the William S. Paley Collection will be offered at Sotheby’s New York in the Modern Evening and Day Sales on 14 and 15 November respectively , as well as the Contemporary Evening and Day Sales on 16 and 17 November respectively.

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