Léonce Rosenberg, Paris
Dr. Gustav F. Reber, Lausanne (by 1933)
Luis Neumann, Basel
Douglas Cooper, Argilliers and London (by 1955)
Galerie Berggruen, Paris
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (by December 1972)
Acquired by the father of the present owner on March 19, 1974
Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, In Memoriam Juan Gris, 1930, no. 16
Zürich, Kunsthaus, Juan Gris, 1933, no. 72 (titled as Stilleben)
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Juan Gris, 1955-56, no. 49
Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Juan Gris, 1974, no. 64
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, his life and work, New York, 1947, illustrated p. 2
Douglas Cooper, Juan Gris, vol. I, Paris, 1977, no. 236, illustrated p. 347
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño, Juan Gris, New York, 1986, no. 94, illustrated pl. 94
Gris painted Bouteille de Beaune et compotier in November 1917, just as the Great War was coming to a close. The works that he completed during this most turbulent period in history are considered among his most accomplished, and the present painting is a wonderful example of the aesthetic that he had evolved amidst the tumult of the war. Gris's paintings of these years, including the Winterthur Kunstmuseum's Verre et carafe (see fig. 1), were inspired by the overlapping planes and angles of Paul Cézanne's still-lifes (see fig. 3). But they also incorporated a highly sophisticated modern style that challenges traditional approaches to perspective and the representation of form.
Douglas Cooper, who once owned the present painting, writes the following about this period in the artist's career: "Gris began to simplify and strengthen the structure of his compositions and to represent objects in a less fragmented manner. The content of his paintings thus became more immediately legible and he also explored a new range of colour harmonies in which greens, mauves, maroon red, yellow and blue predominated. In other words he gave up making 'those inventories of objects,' as he once described in a letter his earlier analytical treatment of things, based on a combination of varying views. Gris was now able to include a greater number of objects than in his earlier compositions and could handle the representation of volume and the spatial relationships between objects with greater certainty. . . . Gris saw his paintings of this date as being 'less dry and more plastic' and as having 'a unity which had hitherto been lacking' in his work" (Douglas Cooper and Gary Tinterow, The Essential Cubism, Braque, Picasso and their friends, 1907-1920, New York and London, 1983, p. 12).
Considered one of the four principal artists of the Cubist era, along with Picasso, Braque and Léger, the Spanish-born Juan Gris created bold compositions that were highly individualistic in character. Gris, who became a favorite artist of the dealer's Daniel Henry Kahnweiler and Léonce Rosenberg upon his arrival in Paris in 1910, continuously expanded and revitalized the style known as Cubism during the 1910s. Over the course of that decade, many artists worked with the complex perspectival and compositional devices that were introduced by the Cubist founders Braque and Picasso in 1908, but few would be as successful or as highly regarded for their talent and vision as Gris. Recalling this period and her association with the Cubists, Gertrude Stein indentified Gris as a painter of special importance among these artists: "The only real Cubism is that of Picasso and Juan Gris. Picasso created it and Juan Gris permeated it with his clarity and exaltation" (Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, New York, 1933, p. 111)
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler provided the following analysis of Gris' particular Cubist style: "... [T]he emblems which Juan Gris invented 'signified' the whole of the object which he meant to represent. All the details are not present. The emblems are not comprehensible without previous visual experiences. . . The picture contains not the forms which have been collected in the visual memory of the painter, but new forms, forms which differ from those of the 'real' objects we meet within the visible world, forms which are truly emblems and which only become objects in the perception of the spectator" (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Juan Gris: His Life and Work, London, 1947, p. 90).
Fig. 1, Photograph of Juan Gris by Man Ray, 1922. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.
Fig. 2, Juan Gris, Verre et carafe, December 1917, oil on panel, Kunstmuseum, Winterthur. Bequest of Clara and Emil Friedrich-Jezler, 1973.
Fig. 3, Paul Cézanne, Nature morte: pot à lait et fruits, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of the W. Averell Harriman Foundation in memory of Marie N. Harriman Rewald, 1996
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