Apples, Pears, and Primroses on a Table

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
Oil on canvas 
23-1/2 x 28-3/4 in. (59.7 x 73 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

In an 1872 letter, Courbet’s sister Zoë described this picture as “a large painting, a dozen pears, apples, etc., heaped pleasingly on a table . . . Gustave is enchanted with it. He says that he never achieved such gracious effects of color.” It is among the finest still lifes Courbet painted, describing with poignant sensuality the irregular form, the scarred, lustrous skin of each fruit. But the picture is more than an exercise in “gracious effects of color”: in the lower right-hand corner, Courbet signed and dated it, adding the inscription “Sainte-Pélagie.” These words refer to the prison where the artist was detained in 1871 for his participation in a popular uprising known as the Commune.


[Durand-Ruel, 1872].
[W. Craibe Angus, Glasgow].
John Glas Sandeman, by 1878, still in 1886.
Thomas Glenn Arthur, by 1888, to;
James Arthur, by 1901.
[Ian MacNicol, Glasgow].
?Private Collection, Scotland, by 1962.
Mrs. Margaret (Leslie) Wilson by 1963, sold 30 July 1968, through;
[Ian MacNicol Galleries, Glasgow, to];
[Reid & Lefevre, Ltd., London, stock no. 141/68, as Nature Morte, Pommes, Poires et Primulas sur une table, Saint Pélagie, sold 31 October 1968 to];
[Galerie Castiglione; sold 20 December 1968 to];
[Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York; stock no. 6336, as Nature Morte, Pommes, Poires et Primulas sur une Table, 1871, sold 29 August 1969 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation, acc. no. F.1969.35.2.P, transferred 1999 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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