At the age of eighteen, Henri Manguin struck up a friendship with two fellow fine art students, Albert Marquet and Henri Matisse. The trio was joined by Charles Camoin, Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain and others in the so-called “Fauve” group, their work shown together in room 7 at the 1905 Autumn Salon. The critic Louis Vauxcelles chose “fauve”, the French term for the big cats, in reference to their “roaring” use of colour.
Matisse was an early commentator on Manguin’s innate sense of balance, harmony, and colour. For the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, his talent shone most in still lifes: “M. Manguin’s instinctive feel for colour develops wholly and freely”. This painting is a fine showcase for his gifts. The table is covered with a red and white checked tablecloth, reminiscent of Pierre Bonnard’s work. On it stands a white porcelain dish laden with peaches, pears, and grapes. The palette is dominated by Manguin’s characteristic oranges, reds, and greens, laid down with a sense of boldness and freedom that reflects his loyalty to the Fauvist aesthetic. The subject is rich, the brushwork lively. The sense of composition, the careful arrangement of powerfully delineated shapes, and the background of roughly sketched geometric volumes all work together to create the coordinates of a new space. The overall effect reveals the influence of Paul Cézanne, whose art Manguin had encountered as early as the 1895 retrospective at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery. Manguin is known to have visited Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence.
Manguin was also friendly with Félix Vallotton and settled in Lausanne during the First World War. In 1918, the local branch of the Paris-based Bernheim-Jeune gallery held an exhibition of his works, featuring this still life.
Henri Manguin, exh. cat. Paris, Musée Marmottan, Paris, La Bibliothèque des arts, 1988.
Mania Hahnloser, « Manguin en Suisse », in Pierre Gassier and Henri Manguin, Manguin parmi les Fauves, exh. cat. Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, 1983: 30-32.
Lucile et Claude Manguin (ed.), Henri Manguin: catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre peint, Neuchâtel, Ides et Calendes, 1980