Lot 12
  • 12

Georges Braque

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Georges Braque
  • Les deux oiseaux
  • signed G. Braque (toward lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 16 1/8 by 47 1/4 in.
  • 41 by 120 cm.
  • Executed in 1956.


Aime & Marguerite Maeght, Paris (acquired direclty from the artist)
Galerie Maeght, Paris 
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (acquired from the above in June 1971)


Venice, XXIX Biennale de Venice, 1958, cat. no. 122
Rome, Palazzo Barberini, Braque, 1958-1959, cat. no. 31


Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue de l’oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures 1948-1957, Paris, 1962, p. 108, illustrated

Catalogue Note

In the mid 1950s Braque began a series of pictures depicting birds in flight.  Often silhouetted in black against the open sky,these winged creatures were not specific to any particular species, but rather an archtypal image that symbolized the boundless spirit of Braque's art in these later years.   "The bird is summing up all of my art," Braque stated around this time.  The subject, however, had fascinated him as early as 1929, when he created illustrations for an edition of Hesiod's Théogonie.   The birds in these pictures related to the decorative motifs on ancient Greek and Estruscan ceramics, which were often incised into the clay. The bas-relief aesthetic took hold in Braque's later paintings, including this picture from 1956.   Braque applied thick layers of paint onto this canvas to create a dense planar background onto which he could set his birds aflight.  

Braque explained his approach to these bird paintings in 1958: "I tend to paint it thickly and opaquely in order to suggest its infinite depth.  In my ceiling decorations in the Louvre, for instance, I found it necessary to use layer after layer of pigment on the sky so that the onlooker would feel that the birds had enough sky to fly about in and would at the same time be made conscious of the sky as a tactile element.  I want to bring the sky -- and everying else I paint -- within people's grasp" (quoted in John Golding, Braque: The Late Works, London, 1997, p. 114).