356
356

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Georges Braque
LA SAUCIÈRE
ACCÉDER AU LOT
356

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Georges Braque
LA SAUCIÈRE
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Londres

Georges Braque
1882 - 1963
LA SAUCIÈRE
signed G. Braque (lower left)
oil on canvas
33.6 by 55.1cm., 13 1/4 by 21 5/8 in.
Painted in 1942.
Lire le rapport d'état Lire le rapport d'état

Provenance

Alfred Poyet, Paris
Sam Salz, New York
Alex & Elizabeth Lewyt, New York (acquired from the above in 1952)
Private Collection, New York (by descent from the above; sale: Sotheby's, New York, 7th May 2013, lot 8)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exposition

Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1942
New York, Findlay Galleries, Art Seldom Seen: Masterpieces from the Private Collection, the first Helen Pratt Philbin Memorial Exhibition, 1974, n.n.

Bibliographie

Maeght Éditeur (ed.), Catalogue de l'œuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures, 1942-1947, Paris, 1960, no. 33, illustrated n.p. (erroneously catalogued as oil on paper)

Description

In La Saucière, Georges Braque revisits his early fascination with Cubist conceptions surrounding space. A highly texturised and inventive still-life, the present work exemplifies the artist’s engagement with the theme of the pedestal table – a leitmotif that occupied his œuvre from 1911 to 1952. Painted in 1942, amidst the drama of the Second World War, the present work liberates the purely relational space between mundane objects by juxtaposing them against the surface of a dark table top and muted background; in the process, Braque emphasises his naturalistic view point, which at the time of the war had transformed into a more intimate and ritualistic iconography.

In contrast to Braque’s early Cubist still lifes, the present work demonstrates the austerities of life in occupied Paris: the cherries, lemons, glass, sauce boat, potato and fork are sparsely scattered across the table top, illustrating wartime scarcity. Although Braque famously disclaimed all symbolic interpretations of his work, the spatial concerns of his still life are still at the mercy of circumstance, and La Saucière contemplatively praises man’s ability to endure the daily tribulations of food rationing and shortage during the war. Such scarcity of materials allowed Braque to explore the space between objects, a subject that had preoccupied him throughout his career.

In the artist’s own words, ‘Objects! For me there are no such things! What counts are relationships. They are infinite […] People are incredible! They say to me: "You have painted this tin of tobacco and this cup." And what is between the two? [...] It is more important. I started by painting a space and then by furnishing it. The object is a dead thing. It only comes alive when it is activated. That is what poetry is, don’t you see? Find the common ground between things. "A swallow pierces the sky like a dagger." The swallow was not what counted. There were thousands in the sky. But it becomes a dagger! You have to subject things to change, to stop living on automatic’ quoted in Nadine Pouillon & Isabelle Monod-Fontaine, Braque, Œuvres de Georges Braque (1882-1963), Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1982, p. 150).

Exploring the poetics of the space between, Braque developed a pictorial language of forms which interrogated the object’s identity through sinuous and cursive lines, allowing objects to simultaneously and rhythmically dissolve and float across solid surfaces: '…it seems to me just as difficult to paint the spaces between as the things themselves. The space between seems to be as essential an element as what they call the object. The subject matter consists precisely of the relationship between these objects and between the object and the intervening spaces. How can I say what the picture is of when relationships are always things that change? [...] What counts is this transformation’ (ibid, pp. 150-154).

Boasting a prestigious provenance, having passed through the hands of gallery owner Alfred Poyet and New York art dealer Sam Salz, La Saucière is a masterful example of Braque’s wartime still-lifes, which typifies the artist’s desire to bring to life mundane objects into a spectacular rendering of material that interrogates the two-dimensional surface of painting into a dynamic play on space and fields of vision. This work also previously belonged to Alexander & Elisabeth Lewyt whose exceptional taste, ingenuity and creativity brought about one of the most celebrated collections of late 19th and early 20th century European art. Alexander Lewyt was a visionary, inventor and entrepreneur who famously invented the clip-on bow-tie and his own eponymous vacuum cleaner. Together with his wife Elisabeth, Alexander shared a passion for art, collecting paintings by Cézanne, Degas, Bonnard, Renoir, and most famously The Man with the Axe by Paul Gauguin. The philanthropic couple would also donate many paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Londres