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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Spanish, 1887 - 1927
The White Tablecloth
(La Nappe Blanche)
Oil on panel

19 3/8 x 24 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the
Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

Arts of Europe

Spanish painter Juan Gris created such highly ordered, even mathematical, compositions that French poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire dubbed him the demon of logic. Yet Gris was also a master colorist. This combination of structural rigor and coloristic inflection is evident in The White Tablecloth.

Gris dissects each object the wine bottle and its shadows, the tablecloth and its folds to create a still life that is both lyrical and balanced. The stark white fabric is an eye-catching focal point, and with it Gris breaks up the dark, muted greens of the bottle and russet browns of the table and background. The artist's architectural arrangement of objects and his overlapping of shapes suggest the technique of collage (papers pasted directly to the canvas), but Gris also celebrates the act of painting with the tablecloth's play of whites and grays.