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

Verre et pipe, café

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Verre et pipe, café
signed 'G Braque' (on the reverse)
oil, sand and charcoal on canvas
7 3/8 x 10 1/2 in. (18.8 x 27.8 cm.); oval
Painted in 1914
Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris, no. 1972.
Paul Éluard, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 3 July 1924, lot 1.
Jacques Sarlie, New York; sale, Sotheby's, London, 12 October 1960, lot 30.
Jacques Koerfer, Bern and Ascona, and thence by descent to the present owner.
G. Isarlov, Georges Braque, Paris, 1932, p. 187.
V. Lindsay, ed., Auge und Vision: die Sammlung Jacques Koerfer, Bern, 1972, no. 27 (illustrated).
N. Worms de Romilly & J. Laude, Braque, le cubisme, fin 1907-1914, Paris, 1982, no. 245, p. 290 (illustrated p. 251).
A. Butterfield, The Jacques Koerfer Collection, London, 1999, p. 108 (illustrated p. 22 & visible in a photograph, p. 23).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Anna Povejsilova
Anna Povejsilova

Lot Essay

Executed in 1914, Verre et pipe, café comes from the often termed, ‘heroic years of Cubism’. From 1908, Georges Braque, together with Pablo Picasso, revolutionised a number of the traditional modes of representation; illusionism was shattered and the pictorial procedures and processes of art making, such as perspective and tonal modelling, were revealed and challenged. Verre et pipe, café demonstrates the new, radical mode of representation championed by Georges Braque and his contemporaries.

Verre et pipe, café demonstrates Braque’s mastery and great appreciation of the still-life genre. Arranged within an oval-shaped canvas, the outlines of a glass and pipe emerge from the variously faceted background. Textured areas of oil paint, and the bold lettering of the word ‘CAFE’ create a varied and diverse composition. Braque, as well as Picasso, had been using oval-shaped canvases from as early as 1910. In doing so, the very shape of the painting appears like the round surface of the top of a café table on which the glass and pipe are arranged, giving a tactile, literal sense of the space depicted.

In Verre et pipe, café Braque skilfully plays with the expressive potential of different media. Charcoal-drawn forms contrast with planes of paint, and with the hand printed letters ‘CAFE’. Braque was the son of a house painter and decorator, so had been trained in decorative painterly techniques; this is reflected in his cubist paintings. In 1911, he had begun to add hand stencilled lettering into his compositions, and later began using a technique whereby a comb was raked through wet paint on the canvas, simulating the textural appearance of wood grain. By 1912, both Braque and Picasso had started incorporating found papers, such as newspapers and pieces of wallpaper, into their compositions, so questioning the very nature and concept of illusionistic representation. In Verre et pipe, café these different painterly techniques serve as visual signs that describe the scene: the wood grain refers to the wooden café table, and lettering to the location of the still-life. These real elements ground the painting in a representational form of reality in what would otherwise be a near completely abstract composition.

Verre et pipe, café was completed in 1914, in the months leading up to the declaration of the First World War in August of that year. The war was to irreparably alter the avant-garde art world of Paris. Picasso, a Spanish national who remained based in Paris for the duration of the war, saw Braque and André Derain off from the train station in Avignon. He recalled, ‘On 2nd August 1914 I took Braque and Derain to the station at Avignon. I never saw them again’ (Picasso, quoted in A. Danchev, Georges Braque, A Life, London, 2005, p. 121). Braque sustained a serious head injury while fighting and did not resume painting until 1918. Though the artists remained friends for the rest of their lives, never again would the creative dynamism and dialogue of their partnership from 1908 until 1914 be seen. Verre et pipe, café serves as a testament to the revolutionary pictorial innovations that Braque and Picasso had instigated, an encapsulation of the central characteristics of Braque’s form of Cubism.

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