Rather than representing flowers in bloom, Cézanne was more interested here in the modulation in colour. Once again, the subject is used to further one of his major preoccupations as an artist: the study of the effect of light on objects, and the resulting variations in colour.
The apparent simplicity and sobriety of this painting are far removed from the exuberance and richness found in Renoir's floral compositions. Space is created by a clever interplay of vertical and horizontal lines, and by an even distribution of volumes, whereas the overall harmony is achieved through the subtle use of different blues. The composition centres precisely on the vase placed on the table. About ten years previously, at Auvers-sur-Oise, Cézanne has already painted many still lifes with flowers, but he adds a new element here: apples, which stand out through their colour, and which recall the still life paintings with fruit that are much more common in his oeuvre than floral paintings. The artist is said to have told Gasquet: "I'm giving up flowers. They wither too quickly. Fruits are more reliable". Bringing together the two themes enriched this painting, previously known as Flowers and Fruit.