Lot 37
  • 37

Georges Braque

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 GBP
1,202,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Georges Braque
  • Les fruits sur la table
  • signed G. Braque (lower right)
  • oil and sand on canvas


Alfred Poyet, Paris

Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York

Mr. & Mrs. Leigh B. Block, Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (donated by the above in 1988. Sold: Christie’s, New York, 9th May 2001, lot 32)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art & Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 100 European Paintings & Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block, 1967, no. 52, illustrated in the catalogue


Nicole S. Mangin, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Georges Braque: Peintures 1936-1941, Paris, 1961, illustrated p. 87

Catalogue Note

Les fruits sur la table, painted in 1941, displays Braque’s preeminent abilities of composition and painterly experimentation. The artist’s exploration into the genre of still-life is one of the most complete and insightful journey’s taken in 20th century art. He expressed his preference for the subject saying ‘the still-life is a tactile, even manual space in contrast to the space of the landscape, which is a visual space’ (quoted in Edwin Mullins, The Art of Georges Braque, New York, 1968, p. 41). The still-life was the perfect genre for his progression towards and through Cubism and beyond, it is precisely the malleability of the still-life composition, both real and illusory, that allowed Braque to approach his art with such rigour, and make paintings such as Les fruits sur la table so rich visually and intellectually. Isabelle Monod-Fontaine writes that Braque achieved with his still-lifes, an ‘inexhaustible poetic richness. The still life as a genre is raised to a new level of profundity and complexity, which has probably never been attained since’ (I. Monod-Fontaine, Georges Braque: Order and Emotion (exhibition catalogue), Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros, 2003, p. 24).

In the present work the various fruits and furnishings are not deconstructed and analysed as specimens in the way they might have been during Braque’s Cubist period, rather they are treated solely as elements of the overall composition. The forms create a succession of charming arabesques such as the table cloth and the decorative shape of the table. Rich black lines caress every object in the composition enforcing the sense of unity between form and content. As Braque noted: ‘Without having striven for it, I do in fact end by changing the meaning of objects and giving them a pictorial significance which is adequate to their new life. When I paint a vase, it is not with the intention of creating a utensil capable of holding water. It is for quite another reason. Objects are recreated for a new purpose: in this case, that of playing a part in a picture. Once an object has been integrated into a picture, it accepts a new density and at the same time becomes universal. If it remains an individual object this must be due to lack of improvisation or imagination. As they give up their habitual function, so objects become united by the relationships which sprung up between them and the picture and ultimately myself!’ (quoted in Douglas Cooper, Braque, The Great Years, Chicago, 1972, p. 111).

Les fruits sur la table once formed part of the collection of Leigh B. Block and his wife Mary. In 1942 they started their collection with another still-life by Braque from 1928, and his work was to become the cornerstone of their rapidly expanding collection of modern European art. In 1967 they were honoured by an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in which this work was included. They were trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago for many years, and it was to this institution that they donated the present work along with paintings by Picasso, Gris and Miró. Aside from this generous bequest, the Blocks also funded the building of a new museum of art for Northwestern University in Illinois, to which they gave their name.