Lot 136
  • 136

Georges Braque

Estimate
1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
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Description

  • Georges Braque
  • Femme a la guitare

  • Signed and dated G. Braque 31 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas 

     

  • 45 3/4 by 35 3/8 in.
  • 116.2 by 88.9 cm

Provenance

Paul Rosenberg, Paris (1936)
Mme Méric Callery, Paris (1938)
G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh
Perls Galleries, New York (acquired from the above in 1957)
Mr. and Mrs. Lee A. Ault, New York (acquired from the above in 1959)
Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., New York
Acquired from the above in 1979

Exhibited

Basel, Kunsthalle, Georges Braque, 1933, no. 170 (titled Die Frau mit Mandoline and Mädchen mit Guitarre)
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Georges Braque, 1936, no. 61 (titled Femme à la mandoline)
New York, Perls Galleries, 15 Major Selections, 1957, no. 1 (titled Femme assise à la guitare)
Cincinnati, The Contemporary Art Center; Chicago, The Arts Club; Minneapolis, The Walker Art Center, Braque: An Exhibition to Honor the Artist on the Occasion of his Eightieth Anniversary, 1962-63 (titled Portrait of a Woman)
New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., Georges Braque, 1882-1963: An American Tribute, The Thirties, 1964, no. 13
Los Angeles, County Museum of Art, Monet to Matisse. French Art in Southern California Collections, 1991

Literature

Carl Einstein, Georges Braque, Paris, 1934, illustrated pl. LXXXV (titled La Musicienne assise)
Christian Zervos, Histoire de l’art contemporain, Paris, 1938, illustrated p. 283 (titled Femme à la mandoline)
Nicole Worms de Romilly and Jean Laude, Catalogue de l’oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures 1928-1935, Paris, 1962, illustrated p. 59
Pierre Descargues and Massimo Carra, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Braque, Paris, 1973, no. 426, illustrated p. 104

Catalogue Note

Braque is considered one of the four principal artists of the Cubist era, along with Picasso, Gris and Léger, yet his bold compositions are highly individual in character.  Many of his paintings were inspired by the works of Cézanne (see fig. 1), whose tendency to incorporate overlapping planes and angles into his still-lifes is similarly employed by Braque in the present work.  Braque’s ability to define the spatial relationships of his planes using tonal variation resulted in an overall sense of unity in his compositions.  According to Maurice Gieure, “The period 1929-1931…was for Braque one of enrichment by multiple experiments.  If we glance at the work accomplished, we can see in it a perfect continuity carried on by successive contributions, one completing the other and giving it its meaning even when it seems to refute it, as it repeats it differently, so as to extract from it a possibility of composition whose final aim is always a double essence indivisibly bound together: plastic and poetic.  This poetic creation remains for him at every moment, the ultimate result of the lyrical conditions called forth.  It is their justification and their culmination in the pictorial fact” (Maurice Gieure, Georges Braque, Paris and New York, 1956, p. 45). 

In 1931, Braque traveled to Florence and Venice, and the impact of this trip is reflected in the present work.  Braque freely expressed his aversion to the rigid use of perspective in Renaissance art, and preferred to explore the breakdown of space and three-dimensional objects by translating familiar subjects onto canvas using Cubist techniques.  In Femme à la guitare, for example, Braque has revisited a classical subject – a woman seated with a musical instrument, centrally located on the picture plane – by juxtaposing geometric planes of varying colors and patterns in order to achieve a sense of advancing and receding space.   As he explained, “What artists have particular significance for me?  It’s difficult to say.  You see the whole Renaissance tradition is antipathetic to me.  The hard and fast rules of perspective which it imposed on art were a ghastly mistake which it has taken four centuries to redress:  Cézanne and, after him, Picasso and myself can take a lot of the credit for this.  Scientific perspective is nothing but eye-fooling illusionism; it is simply a trick – a bad trick – which makes it impossible for an artist to convey a full experience of space, since it forces the objects in a picture to disappear away from the beholder instead of bringing them within his reach, as painting should” (Quoted in Karen Wilkin, Georges Braque, New York, 1991, p. 103).

 

Braque moved to Varengeville near Dieppe in 1931 and found inspiration in the local beach culture on the Normandy coast.  Many of his canvases from this time depict beachgoers frolicking or picnicking on the sand (see fig. 2).  These compositions are similar in style to Femme à la guitare, which also recalls Picasso’s Surrealist beach scenes from the same period (see fig. 3).  Yet while Picasso’s work displays the bright, intensive colors of the Mediterranean sun, Braque’s paintings reflect the more earthy and somber coloring of the Normandy coastline, as reflected in the present work.  Braque’s relationship with Picasso began early in his career, and similarities between the two artists can be found in other elements of their work. Though perhaps originally inspired to pursue a more linear approach by his old friend Picasso’s work of 1928-9, Braque developed a looping and flowing form of drawing, such as that exhibited in Femme à la guitare, that is his alone.  This combination of fluid line and carefully balanced planes of earth tones result in a harmonious and enchanting composition.

 

Fig. 1,  Paul Cézanne, Pommes et oranges, circa 1899, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Fig. 2, Georges Braque, Les Baigneuses, 1931, oil on canvas

Fig. 3, Pablo Picasso, Bather with Beach Ball, 1932, oil on canvas,  The Museum of Modern Art, New York, partial gift from an anonymous donor and promised gift of Ronald S. Lauder

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