Juan Gris: Still Life with Checked Tablecloth

Juan Gris: Still Life with Checked Tablecloth

Juan Gris painted Still Life with Checked Tablecloth onto the canvas without applying a ground layer. Artists have used such layers to create a smooth surface on which to paint. Traditionally composed of a combination of chalk, pigments, glue, and/or oil, a ground layer also prevents the canvas from absorbing the oil medium, which can cause fibers to deteriorate over time. Because there is no ground layer on this canvas and because the paint layer was thinly applied, areas of exposed canvas, especially along the outlines of forms, are clearly visible when the painting is viewed with transmitted light. The absence of a white ground layer also contributes to the overall subdued tonality of the paint layer.

The painting shows a table with coffee cups, wineglasses, grapes, a bottle wine, a bottle of Bass extra stout ale with its distinctive red diamond logo, a newspaper, and a guitar.

Also mixed into the design is a bull’s head. The coffee cup at lower center doubles as the animal’s snout, a black-and-white concentric circle at left is a “bull’s eye,” the bottle of ale is an ear, and the sinuous edge of the guitar is a horn. The letters “EAU” on the wine label, which ostensibly stand for “bEAUjolais” can just as easily represent “taurEAU” (bull)

An examination revealed that Gris first drew his composition with pencil and charcoal onto the canvas. The final composition shows almost no changes from his initial drawing, suggesting that he probably made preparatory sketches. In the area of the tablecloth, for example, it is clear that Gris first drew the checkered design in pencil before painting within each square. He then vigorously scored the paint with a sharp tool while it was still fresh in order to more faithfully emulate the weave pattern of the tablecloth.

Leonard A. Lauder on Juan Gris’s Still Life with Checked Tablecloth.

Juan Gris’s ‘Still Life with Checked Tablecloth’ sells for $50 million at auction.

Print: Juan Gris: Still Life with Checked Tablecloth 1915

Juan Gris: Still Life with Checked Tablecloth 1915

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