Furthermore, Fry warned his readers, “it must always be kept in mind that such [written] analysis halts before the ultimate concrete reality of the work of art, and perhaps in proportion to the greatness of the work it must leave untouched a greater part of the objective.” (Private collection, Paris), painted about 1880.
The lengthy analysis of the picture begins with a description of the application of paint.
Formal analysis is a specific type of visual description.
Unlike ekphrasis, it is not meant to evoke the work in the reader’s mind.
As is often the case in Fry’s writing, the words he chose go beyond what the viewer sees to suggest the process of painting, an explanation of the surface in terms of the movement of the painter’s hand.
After a digression about how other artists handled paint, Fry returned to [Cézanne] has abandoned altogether the sweep of a broad brush, and builds up his masses by a succession of hatched strokes with a small brush.
And this horizontal [visually] supports the spherical volumes, which enforce, far more than real apples could, the sense of their density and mass. How the sphere is repeated again and again in varied quantities.
To this is added the rounded oblong shapes which are repeated in two very distinct quantities in the compotier and the glass.
These strokes are strictly parallel, almost entirely rectilinear, and slant from right to left as they descend.
And this direction of the brush strokes is carried through without regard to the contours of the objects.