From the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia:
Like Matisse's earlier work in the Hermitage, "Blue Pot and Lemon", this canvas (usually dated to the end of 1898) is linked with Matisse's main Impressionist composition, "The Dessert Table" (1897; Niarchos Collection, Paris). In arranging these everyday objects on the canvas, Matisse explored the experience of his predecessors, taking up and moving beyond their painterly and compositional principles, actively seeking his own style. Light still draws the artist's attention; the softly modelled fruits, dish and cup exist within an almost tangible light environment. But they do not dissolve into that light; rather, the energetic moulding of the coffepot with broad brushstrokes increases the sense of mass, while the coloured contour emphasises each object. Colour has here acquired greater independence than was seen in earlier works. The intensity of the reflected colours on the surface of the coffeepot, the thick broad areas of coloured shadow on the tablecloth, all state the artist's increasing interest in this element. Matisse's world was becoming less dependent on concrete reality, and he created a greater distance from that reality by using a high viewpoint which enabled him to see the objects from a strange and unnatural angle.