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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Victor Brauner
1903 - 1966
REPAS DE LA SOMNAMBULE
signed Victor Brauner and dated août 1942 (lower right); signed Victor Brauner, dated août 1942, titled and inscribed Fait aux celliers de Rousset on the reverse
oil on canvas
61 by 46.2cm., 24 by 18 1/8 in.
Painted in August 1942.
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Provenance

Henriette & André Gomès, Paris (sale: Briest Scp., Paris, Collection Henriette et André Gomès, 17th June 1997, lot 51)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Antibes, Musée Picasso, Le Regard d'Henriette, Collection Henriette et André Gomès, 1994, no. 12, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

Painted when Victor Brauner was living in Switzerland in 1942, Repas de la Somnambule reveals the artist’s abiding interest in esoteric and fantastical subject-matter. A nude woman with an oversized and vibrantly coloured green head sits within a space curiously empty save for the presence of a mythical beast, which echoes the woman’s pose, its teeth clasped around her hair.  The figure clasps a multi-coloured egg which seems to pulsate with energy, perhaps alluding to the Orphic egg, a potent alchemical symbol which references a myriad of meanings connected to the idea of re-birth and fertility. The overly large eye of the figure was a recurring motif within Brauner’s work, connected to a shocking incident which took place in 1938 in which the artist lost his own eye after intervening in a fight between Oscar Dominguez and Esteban Francés. Both mysterious and enigmatic, Repas de la Somnambule reveals the truly astonishing breadth of Brauner’s utterly distinctive creative language.

The present work boasts a distinguished provenance, having belonged to André and Henriette Gomès. The couple married in 1938, and soon established themselves at the heart of a group of avant-garde artists and intellectuals that included Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró as well as Brauner. They would often meet at the Parisian Café de Flore and Café des Deux Magots. After working with the French dealer Pierre Loeb, Henriette opened a gallery in her own name on avenue Matignon in Paris. Although a modest space, it was home to many exhibitions that included the works of Georges Rouault and Paul Cézanne before the German occupation forced the gallery to close in 1940. André enlisted in the French army and Henriette was forced to flee Paris, but she helped in the war effort by working with the French Resistance. Following the liberation of Paris in 1945, Henriette re-opened the gallery 'Henriette Gomès' on 6 Rue de Cirque, which again served as a meeting place for their friends, intellectuals, and avant-garde artists who were growing in success. Henriette was one of the first to defend and promote abstract art when she exhibited works by Joan Miró, Jean Helion, and Hans Hartung. André spoke of his wife as being a 'woman with strong convictions, who never made concessions, and who sought to fulfill her ideas even if they were not always well-received' (translated from the French, Le Regard d’Henriette: Collection Henriette et André Gomès (exhibition catalogue) Musée Picasso Antibes, Paris, 1994, p. 9). Later in life, they donated some of their collection to museums, including the Musée de Grenoble and Musée National d’Art Moderne de Paris, with the desire for avant-garde artists such as Victor Brauner to be more greatly represented in France.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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