Georges Braque (1882-1963)
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Georges Braque (1882-1963)

Les soleils

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Les soleils
signed 'G Braque' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21 5/8 x 15 in. (55 x 38.1 cm.)
Painted in 1946
M.P. Beglarian, Paris, by 1960.
Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Cahiers d'Art, 1947, p. 33.
J. Grenier, Braque, Peinture 1909-1947, Paris, 1948 (illustrated pl. XIII).
D. Cooper, Braque, Paintings, 1909-1947, London, 1948 (illustrated pl. XIII).
'L'oeil du décorateur', in L'Oeil, no. 39, March 1958.
Galerie Maeght (ed.), Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures 1942-1947, Paris, 1960, pp. 108-109 (illustrated p. 108).
Paris, Galerie Maeght, Braque, June 1947, no. 30.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent tableaux de collections privées de Bonnard à De Staël, Paris, 1960.
Saragossa, Caja Iberica, Homage à Denise Colomb, September - November 1995.
Turin, Palazzo Bricherasio, Luci del Mediterraneo, March - June 1997.
Lodève, Musée de Lodève, Braque, Friesz, June - October 2005, no. 41 (illustrated p. 149).
Special notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

Georges Braque was one of the great painters of still-lifes of the twentieth century, and his flower paintings of the late 1940s are some of the most sumptuous and fully conceived of his oeuvre, showing the lessons of the French still-life tradition of Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, the innovations of Paul Cézanne and his own life-long explorations of the depiction of objects in space.

Visitors to Braque's house and studio in Varengeville in Normandy in 1946 described it as full of flowers, especially sunflowers (fig. 1). His first painting of the subject of Les tournesols had been executed in Paris in 1943 (Maeght, op. cit., p. 64), a more sombre and naturalistic painting which showed the influence of Van Gogh on the artist; indeed a reproduction of the latter's Vase with Sunflowers, 1889, hung on the wall of Braque's Paris studio at the time.

However it was with his return to Normandy after the Liberation of Paris that Braque turned to the subject with renewed vigour, experimenting with an increasingly acidic and vibrant palette and abstract handling of the subject. In Varengeville, Braque kept a flower picture by Paul Cézanne in his bedroom, Bouquet de pivoines dans un pot vert, circa 1898 (Venturi 748), and as Alex Danchev has noted, the abstract quality of Braque's late flower pictures reflect the study of this picture: 'floral sensations rather than botanical specimens, they explode out of the jar like a rocket out of a bottle' (A. Danchev, Georges Braque, A Life, London, 2005, p. 235).

Of further significance in this painting are the roots of the sunflowers, which occupy the centre of the composition: starkly delineated, cutting across the top of the vase, they seem to exist outside of its glass, and indicate a further conclusion that Braque had drawn from his studies of Cézanne's painting: 'The error of so many painters is that they begin with the flower. For, after the flower, it's over. What is there after the flower? Death, when the flower wilts. While from the root to the flower there is all of life' (Braque, quoted in Fumet, Braque, p. 14).

Looking back not only to Cézanne but to his own early work, Braque's predilection for trompes l'oeil, first seen in 1910 when he painted nails and holes at the upper edges of his canvases to suggest the picture was already hanging, is here manifested in the painted green 'frame' at the canvas edges, which paradoxically heightens both the sense of realism and artifice inherent in the genre.

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