Hommage à Cézanne
This painting rings out like a manifesto. Maurice Denis has assembled a group of friends, artists and critics, in the shop of the art dealer, Ambroise Vollard, to celebrate Paul Cézanne, who is represented by the still life on the easel. This painting, Fruit Bowl, Glass and Apples had belonged to Paul Gauguin, who is also evoked among the tutelary examples to whom Denis is paying homage. Effectively, a painting by Gauguin and another by Renoir can be made out in the background. Odilon Redon is also given pride of place: he is shown in the foreground on the far left and most of the figures are looking at him. He is listening to Paul Sérusier who is standing in front of him. From left to right, we can recognise Edouard Vuillard, the critic André Mellerio in a top hat, Vollard behind the easel, Maurice Denis, Paul Ranson, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Pierre Bonnard smoking a pipe, and lastly Marthe Denis, the painter's young wife. Part of the Nabi generation is gathered here in a composition which follows on from the homage paid by Fantin-Latour in several paintings, especially A Studio at Les Batignolles in the Musée d'Orsay.
When Maurice Denis exhibited his work in Paris and Brussels in 1901, reactions were sometimes hostile. In his diary, the artist referred to it as "that painting, which still makes the public laugh". His friend, the writer André Gide, immediately offered to buy it. He did not part with it until 1928 when he gave it to the Musée du Luxembourg.