Paul Cézanne ( US: or UK: ; French: [pɔl sezan] ; 19 January 1839 – 22 October 1906) was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavor to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne's often repetitive, exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields. The paintings convey Cézanne's intense study of his subjects.
The two players face each other across a plain table covered with a simple cloth, sitting at a slight angle to the picture plane. Behind them, the diagonal of the brown wainscoting tilts upward to the right, counterbalancing the table’s downward slope. Not a single line in the picture is straight, including the vertical of the mirror’s edge at the right, the table legs, and the wine bottle. And yet we don’t feel seasick, because each pull in one direction is counterbalanced by a tug in the other. Notice that one hat rim curves downward, the other up, or how the two men’s jacket pockets are “rhymed” with the diagonals formed by their arms.
Cézanne consistently draws our attention to the quality of the paint and canvas, and we never lose ourselves in illusion. For example, the edges of the fruit in the bowl are hard to define, appearing to shift before our eyes. Cézanne's scene defies the rules of linear perspective (a system for creating the illusion of space on a flat surface, wherein every object is seen from a single, fixed point of view) and instead gives us shifting views. The right corner of the table tilts forward, and fails to align with the left side; the pitcher, the bowl, and the glass all tilt to the left, as if magnetically drawn to the curtain. Even though the artist worked on this painting for a number of years, some areas of canvas are left bare, and others, like the drape of the tablecloth on the right edge of the table, appear unfinished. Still Life with Apples is more than an imitation of life—it is an exploration of seeing and the very nature of painting.