Adolphe-Joseph-Thomas Monticelli (French, 1824-1886)
Oil on panel 
24-1/2 x 19 in. (62.2 x 48.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

Floral still lifes became immensely popular with realist and Impressionist painters of the 19th century because they presented the opportunity to experiment with color, light and form as well as theme. Monticelli, a native of Marseille, took a lively interest in developing the subject, employing a free technique, a rich palette and heavy textures. Many of his contemporaries admired his “ability to transform raw pigment into ‘jewels’ or ‘gems’”; their praise was so effusive as to suggest he possessed alchemical powers. Less sympathetic critics, however, decried Monticelli’s work as crude and rough, compared his impastoed surfaces to relief models and mockingly accused the artist of using a trowel to lay down his paint. In clinging to a standard that privileged a smooth, highly finished facture, his detractors closed their eyes to the buttery, tactile effects of Monticelli’s surfaces and to the world of suggestion rather than description that his abstracted application presented. This master’s work was a great source of inspiration to the next generation of artists, including Cézanne and van Gogh.


?Doctor Hippolyte Mireur (1841-1914), Marseille (sale, Hôtel Drouot, 28-30 March 1900, lot 74, as Fleurs dans un vase, to);
[Derrick Morley, London, sold 11 May 1967, 1/2 share, to];
[Reid & Lefevre Gallery, London, stock no. 54/67, offered 5 June 1968 and subsequently sold 20 November 1968 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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