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Freud's Still Life with Aloe joins Garzoni's Still Life with Bowl of Citrons and Chardin's Still Life with Peaches, a Silver Goblet, Grapes, and Walnuts

January 6, 2009

LOS ANGELES—Today, the J. Paul Getty Museum, has put on view Lucian Freud’s Still Life with Aloe (1949-50) alongside the Getty’s Still Life with Peaches, a Silver Goblet, Grapes, and Walnuts (about 1760) by Jean-Siméon Chardin and Still Life with Bowl of Citrons (late 1640s) by Giovanna Garzoni. The three works are on display in the Museum’s South Pavilion at the Getty Center. The installation represents the third installment of the Museum’s Interjections series, in which the inclusion of a 20th century work of art in the Museum’s galleries enlivens the permanent collection. Freud’s Still Life is a generous 12-week loan from the Lynton family of Los Angeles.

“The Museum is delighted to juxtapose a still-life painting by Lucian Freud—one of the most admired painters practicing today—with a beautiful 17th century Italian still-life by the lesser known artist, Garzoni, and the revered 18th century still-life master Chardin,” states Scott Schaefer, senior curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “When offered the opportunity to see these three works side by side in dialogue, visitors will recognize Freud’s roots in the still-life tradition.”

Freud, who has been described by art critic Robert Hughes as “the greatest living realist painter,” is well-versed in the Western tradition of painting and has long admired the talent and skill of the Old Masters. He looks closely at that tradition—borrowing from it and extrapolating from it to create works which are grounded in the contemporary while paying homage to the grandeur of Velazquez, the unusual juxtapositions of Surrealism, and the frivolity of Watteau. In this particular work from his early career, he places an aloe plant and a fish carcass on a horizontal plane or table, which is spatially incongruent with the vertical shutters that are depicted behind and adjacent to the table rather than perpendicular to it. The formal similarities between the two are undeniable, as is the disquieting juxtaposition of these otherwise unrelated “objects.”

Freud’s Still Life will be hung next to the lesser known female artist Giovanna Garzoni’s Still Life with Bowl of Citrons (late 1640s), which depicts robust citrons with their leafy branches still attached filling a worn ceramic bowl to overflowing. Garzoni's acute observation of nature and refined handling of paint are evident in the carefully rendered citron skin and in the wasp's delicate wings. With its central bowl of fruit, this painting is characteristic of Garzoni's style; a single flower or insect placed in front of the picture plane adds interest to the composition. Garzoni deliberately manipulated textures and shapes, contrasting the citrons' rough skin and rounded weightiness with the sharp-edged branches, the glistening, green leaves, and the delicate, star-like blossoms. Garzoni's skillful depictions of natural objects, usually fruits and insects arranged in pleasing ensembles, were among the paintings most coveted by wealthy patrons.

The Freud still-life will also be juxtaposed with Jean-Siméon Chardin’s Still Life with Peaches, a Silver Goblet, Grapes, and Walnuts. In this small still life, Chardin portrayed modest subjects—three walnuts, four peaches, two bunches of grapes, and a pewter mug—but gave the objects monumentality by arranging them in pure geometric groupings and concentrating on their basic forms. He suggested the objects' various textures and substances through the play of light across surfaces and successive applications of paint. In this way, Chardin conveyed the fuzzy skin of the peaches, the hard, brittle shell of the walnuts, the translucence of the grapes, and the heavy, cold exterior of the pewter mug.

About Lucian Freud

Grandson of the famous Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud was born in Berlin, Germany in 1922 and moved to England in 1933. Between 1938 and 1943 he trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, and the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing; he graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1943. Freud is one of the best known British artists working in a traditional representational style, and was commended for the Turner Prize in 1989 in recognition of his innovative and ambitious paintings, as seen in his major retrospective at the Hayward Gallery. His work has been the subject of major exhibitions at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (1997); Tate Britain, London (2002), which subsequently traveled to The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2003); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007).

Also on View

In addition to the Freud painting, the Getty Museum’s paintings collection is further augmented by extraordinary loans from various institutions and collections around the world, which are currently on view:

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Young Woman of Albano (L'Albanaise), 1872, oil on canvas, the Brooklyn Museum (on view in W203 through March 2009)

Gustave Courbet, Still Life with Apples, 1871, oil on canvas, the Museum Mesdag (on view in W203 through May 2009)

Edgar Degas, Portrait of a Man, about 1866, oil on canvas, the Brooklyn Museum (on view in W204 through March 2009)

Eugène Delacroix, Evening after a Battle, about 1824-26, oil on canvas, the Museum Mesdag (on view in W201 through May 2009)

Frans Hals, Feyna van Steenkiste, about 1635, oil on canvas, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, on loan from the City of Amsterdam

Frans Hals, Lucas de Clercq, about 1635, oil on canvas, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, on loan from the City of Amsterdam

Alexei Jawlensky, Blonde (about 1911; oil on cardboard mounted on masonite); Blossoming Girl (about 1911; oil on textured wove paper, mounted on canvas); Feather Hat, Olga (about 1912; oil on textured wove paper, mounted on canvas); Fiery Head (about 1912; oil on textured wove paper, mounted on canvas); Head with White of Eyes (about 1912; oil and crayon on textured wove paper, mounted on cardborad), the Norton Simon Museum (on view in W205 through May 2009)

Gabriel Metsu, An Elegant Lady Writing at Her Desk with Her Dog Beside Her, about 1663, oil on panel, Private Collection, New York (on long term view in E205)

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Portrait of a Young Woman Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak, 1632, oil on panel, Private Collection, New York (on long term view in E205)

Guido Reni, The Abduction of Europa, about 1636, oil on canvas, the National Gallery of Canada (on view in E201 through XYZ, 2009)

Circle of Stradanus, Mars, about 1580-85, oil on canvas, Collection of Lynda and Stewart Resnick (on long term view in N205)

Philips Wouwerman, Heron Hunt, about 1650, oil on copper, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Philips Wouwerman, Horse Pond Near a Boundary Stone, about 1650, oil on panel, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Note to editors:  Images available on request.

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Rebecca Taylor
Getty Communications

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