Georges Braque (1882-1963)

Femme à la mandoline

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Femme à la mandoline
signed 'G Braque' (lower right)
oil over pencil on canvas
13 7/8 x 10¾ in. (35.2 x 27.3 cm.)
Painted in 1936
Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt, New York.
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York.
Mrs. H.C. Hanszen, Houston (acquired from the above, 1969).
Private collection, San Antonio (by descent from the above, by 1979).
Acquired by the present owner, 1995.
Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures 1936-1941, Paris, 1961, p. 4 (illustrated).
New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., Georges Braque, An American Tribute, The Thirties, April-May 1964, no. 26 (illustrated).
Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, The Private Eye, Selected Works from Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, June-August 1989.
San Antonio Museum of Art, Five Hundred Years of French Art, April-August 1995, no. 71 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

George Braque's interior scenes and still life paintings of the late 1930s have been regarded as the most complex and beautifully rendered compositions that the artist created since his Cubist period more than two decades earlier. As John Golding remarked, "the still-lifes executed in the second half of the 1930s are among the fullest and most sumptuous in the entire French canon" (in Braque: The Late Works, exh. cat., The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997, p. 1).

In 1931, Braque traveled to Florence and Venice, and the impact of this trip is clearly reflected in his works of the early to mid-1930s. Here he began to freely express his aversion to the rigid sense of perspective employed in Renaissance work, instead preferring to explore the breakdown of space and three-dimensional objects when translated onto the canvas. Around 1936, the focus of Braque's paintings began to shift from the still life to wider interior views. Into these ornately decorated rooms he introduced impersonal, flattened figures, as in Femme à la mandoline (fig. 1; The Museum of Modern Art, New York) and the current work of the same title. In both of these canvases Braque revisited a classical subject--a woman seated with a musical instrument central to the composition--by juxtaposing geometric planes of color and pattern in order to achieve a sense of advancing and receding space. His revived interest in brilliant color, decoration and rhythmical patterning serve as an ornamental background to the strongly curved outlines of the figure and musical elements in particular.

(fig. 1) Georges Braque, Femme à la mandoline, 1937. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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