• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2256

    The Modern Age: The Hillman Family Collection

    5 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 12

    Georges Braque (1882-1963)

    Nature morte à la corbeille de fruits

    Price Realised  

    Georges Braque (1882-1963)
    Nature morte à la corbeille de fruits
    signed and dated 'G. Braque 27' (lower left)
    oil on panel
    21 1/8 x 36¾ in. (53.6 x 93.3 cm.)
    Painted in 1927


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    *This lot may be exempt from sales tax as set forth in the Sales Tax Notice in the back of the catalogue.

    Having recovered from the head wound he had received during the fighting at Carency during the First World War, Braque resumed painting in 1917, and during the early 1920s he achieved well-deserved if belated success. He sold all eighteen of the major paintings that he exhibited at the 1922 Salon d'Automne. Paul Rosenberg, who had done much to further Pablo Picasso's fortunes in the years following the First World War, became Braque's dealer as well, and gave the artist an important show in May 1924. As it had been during his cubist years, the painter's primary theme was the still-life. Braque said: 'I was painting from nature. That is even what pointed me in the direction of still-life. Here I found an element that was more objective than landscape. The discovery of the tactile space that set my arm in motion when I was confronted with a landscape was beckoning me to seek an even closer sensual contact. If a still life is no longer within my grasp, it seems to me that it ceases to be a still-life or to move me" (quoted in Georges Braque: Order and Emotion, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros, 2003, p. 20). He chose the most ordinary, everyday objects; he had no interest in the sleekly designed consumer goods that fascinated Léger. Edwin Mullins has written:

    "The mid-1920s were rich in small still-lifes. These cabinet-paintings, which manage to combine so effortlessly the French nature morte tradition with a new pictorial language developed from Cubism, are in some respects the very quintessence of Braque. Small in scale, humble in theme, exuding an unaffected relish for the pleasures of plain bourgeois living they are the purest examples of Braque the craftsman, and of Braque the lover of things simple and everyday. They are also Braque's point of closest contact with that earlier master of intimate still-life, Chardin, and through him the Dutch seventeenth-century still-lifes that were so popular with the French in Chardin's day, and about which the term 'cabinet-pictures' was first used" (in Braque, London, 1968, pp. 108-109).

    Braque described his new pictorial goal as exploring "how far one can go in blending volume and color" (quoted in J. Leymarie, Georges Braque, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1988, p. 27). The present painting shows areas of the black ground that Braque favored using in his still-lifes from 1918 into the late 1920s. The still-life elements have been rendered as flattened shapes that act as simple "signs" for he objects they represent, as in cubist practice. Braque has created spatial depth by contrasting the broad white form of an open book against darker forms that lay before it, against which the characteristic colors of the various fruits resonate more strongly. The artist often employed elongated horizontal formats during this period, allowing him to disperse the focal points in his still-life compositions, resulting in a sense of casual intimacy and relaxed pliancy not previously encountered in his art. Isabelle Monod-Fontaine has written, "nobody else succeeded as he did in transforming a table covered with objects into a mental space, a cerebral as well as a visual stimulus" (in exh. cat., op. cit., 2003, p. 19).

    (fig. 1) Jean-Siméon Chardin, Carafe of Wine, Silver Goblet, Cherries, Peaches, an Apricot and an Apple, circa 1728. The St. Louis Art Museum.BARCODE 25995275

    Provenance

    Alphonse Kann, Paris.
    Confiscated by Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (circa June-November 1940).
    Gustav Rochlitz, Hans Wendland and Zacharias Birtschansky (acquired from the above by exchange, 3 March 1941).
    Theodor Fischer, Lucerne (acquired from the above via Hans Wendland and Bernhard A. Böhmer by exchange and taken to Swtizerland by Böhmer on 4 October 1941).
    Dr. Willi Raeber, Basel (acquired from the above, 16 March 1942).
    Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne (acquired from the above, April 1942).
    Dr. Fritz Heer, Zurich (acquired from the above).
    Restituted to the executors of Alphonse Kann's estate, London (7 July 1949).
    Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles.
    Alex and Rita K. Hillman, New York (acquired from the above, 1951).
    Gift from the above to the present owner, 16 October 1968.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation


    Literature

    G. Isarlov, Catalogue des oeuvres de Georges Braque, Paris, 1932, no. 448.
    C. Virch, 'The Annual Summer Loan Exhibition,' in Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Summer 1967, p. 31 (illustrated).
    Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures 1924-1927, Paris, no. 102 (illustrated).
    M. Valsecchi and M. Carrà, L'opera completa di Braque, Milan, 1971, no. 367 (illustrated).
    E. Braun, Manet to Matisse: The Hillman Family Collection, Seattle and London, 1994, p. 38, no. 3 (illustrated in color, p. 39).


    Exhibited

    New York, Paul Rosenberg Gallery Inc., Collectors' Choice: Masterpieces of French Art from New York Private Collections, March-April 1953, no. 14 (illustrated).
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Modern European Paintings from New York's Private Collections, June-September 1956.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Impressionist and Modern Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition, Summer 1957.
    New York, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Deferation of Jewish Philanthropies Exhibition, October-November 1957.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan, Summer 1960, p. 1, no. 6.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan, Summer 1961, no. 6.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private
    Collections: Summer Loan
    , Summer 1962, no. 2.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private
    Collections: Summer Loan
    , Summer 1963, p. 9, no. 88.
    New York, Perls Galleries, Georges Braque, 1882-1963: An American Tribute, April-May 1964, no. 27 (illustrated).
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Summer Loan Exhibition: Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from Private Collections, Summer 1966, p. 2, no. 11.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition, Summer 1967.
    New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., The Protean Century, 1870-1970, for the Benefit of the Hopkins Center Art Gallery, Dartmouth College, February 1970, no. 8 (illustrated in color).
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Summer Loan Exhibition: Paintings from New York Collections. Collection of Mrs. Alex Hillman and the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, July-November 1971, no. 2.
    Bronx Museum of the Arts, Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, April-May 1972.
    Laramie, University of Wyoming Art Center, The Hillman Collection, November 1972.
    Phoenix Art Museum, Selections from the Alex Hillman Collection, January-February 1975.
    Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts, Modern Masters: Paintings and Drawings from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, December 1977-February 1978, no. 2 (illustrated).
    Austin, University of Texas; Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Museum of Art; Hunstville Museum of Art; St. Petersberg, Museum of Art; Lawrence, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas; Huntington Gallery; Little Rock, Arkansas Art Center; Williamsburg, Joseph and Margaret Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary and Ames, Brunnier Gallery and Museum, Iowa State University, Selections from the Collection of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, January 1979-November 1985.
    Hartford, Joseloff Gallery, Hartford Art School, Modern Masters from the Collection of a New York Foundation, October-November 1981.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Exhibition of Works from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, February 1986-January 1987.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Modern Masters: French Art from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation Collection, June-August 1988.