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

Tête de femme II

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Tête de femme II
signed and dated 'G Braque 30' (lower right)
oil on canvas
18 x 15 in. (45.7 x 38.1 cm.)
Painted in 1930
Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York.
Molly and Walter Bareiss, Greenwich, Connecticut; sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 27 April 1960, lot 32.
Nathan Cummings, New York (by June 1970).
Private collection, France (by 1975).
Acquired by Achim Moeller Fine Art on behalf of John C. Whitehead, 1981.
H.S. Ede, “Georges Braque,” Cahiers dArt, Paris, 1933, p. 78 (illustrated).
C. Einstein, “Georges Braque, XXe Siècle,” Chroniques du Jour, Paris, 1934 (illustrated, pl. LXXXII).
M. Gieure, Georges Braque, Paris, 1956, p. 19 (illustrated).
Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures, 1928-1935, Paris, 1962, p. 39 (illustrated).
Achim Moeller Fine Art, ed., Late XIX and Early XX Century French Masters, The John C. Whitehead Collection, A Collection in Progress, New York, 1987, p. 28 (illustrated in color, p. 29).
B. Léal, intro., George Braque, exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris, 2013, p. 126 (illustrated, fig. 4).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Selections from the Nathan Cummings Collection, June 1970-September 1971, p. 63, no. 48 (illustrated).
The Art Institute of Chicago, Major Works from the Collection of Nathan Cummings, October-December 1973, p. 52, no. 43 (illustrated).
The Montclair Art Museum, Late XIX and Early XX Century French Masters, The John C. Whitehead Collection, April-June 1989, p. 30, no. 9.
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, The Whitehead Collection, Late 19th and 20th Century French Masters, A Collection in Progress, 1997, p. 162, no. 95 (illustrated in color, p. 164; detail illustrated in color, p. 163).
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, From Daumier to Matisse, Selections from the John C. Whitehead Collection, May 2002, pp. 66 and 91, no. 18 (illustrated in color, pp. 67 and 91).

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Morgan Schoonhoven
Morgan Schoonhoven

Lot Essay

By the early 1930s, Braque’s work had been featured extensively in publications and exhibitions in Europe. His art was concurrently being promoted in the United States as part of a larger effort by influential dealers, collectors and arts organizations to increase the American public’s interest in European modernism. Braque’s dealer, Paul Rosenberg, developed a partnership with The Arts Club of Chicago to cultivate American interest in the artists he represented through an exhibition series in rented galleries at The Art Institute of Chicago. Braque’s first career retrospective was held in 1933 at the Kunsthalle Basel, and Carl Einstein, the curator of the show, would publish the first monograph on the artist the following year. Tête de femme II was included in this seminal publication, heralded as a demonstration of creative mastery and freedom of composition which produced hitherto unseen pictorial realities.
In 1928, Braque had begun to paint portraits of women with their heads divided into interlocking planes. These pictures mark a stylistic shift from the curves, rich colors and crowded compositions which typified the artist’s painting manner for the preceding decade. These paintings can be divided into two sub-series: Tête I and Tête II of 1928, and Tête de femme I, Tête de femme II and Tête de femme III of 1930. The present work, the second of the series in 1930, is the canvas in which Braque most skillfully manipulates the pictorial space, building up the form through interacting, overlapping elements. This treatment is akin to painted collage, recalling the artist’s experiments with papier collé in 1912 (fig. 1). Like those early works, Tete de femme II counters the conventional devices of modeling and depth perspective, drawing attention to the absolute flatness of the two-dimensional plane.
Braque described his rendering of the female form as such: “I would not be able to show a woman in all her natural beauty. I do not have the skill. Nobody has. So I have to create a new kind of body, a beauty that appears to me in terms of volume, line, mass, and weight, and through this beauty I interpret my subjective impression. Nature is a simple pretext for a decorative composition, together with feelings. It suggests emotion and I translate this emotion into art. I want to uncover the Absolute, rather than the mere imitation of a woman” (quoted in B. Zurcher, Georges Braque, Life and Work, New York, 1988, p. 197).

(fig. 1) Georges Braque, Guitare aria de Bach, 1912. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

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