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

Tête de femme III

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Tête de femme III
signed 'G Braque' (lower right)
oil on canvas
18 ¼ x 15 in. (46.3 x 38 cm.)
Painted in 1930
M. van der Clipp, Paris.
P. and D. Colnaghi and Co., Ltd., London.
Laing Galleries, Toronto.
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Sair, Winnipeg; sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 9 December 1959, lot 78.
Hammer Galleries, New York.
Perls Galleries, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, October 1969.
C. Zervos, "Georges Braque et le développement du cubisme," Cahiers d'Art, vol. 7, nos. 1-2, 1932, pp. 18-20 (illustrated, p. 19).
"October Exhibitions in New York City," Pictures on Exhibit, October 1960, p. 1 (illustrated; titled Interprétation des têtes).
Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue de l’oeuvre de Georges Braque: Peintures, 1928-1935, Paris, 1960 (illustrated, pl. 40).
New York, Hammer Galleries, Modern French Paintings and Drawings, October 1960 (titled Interprétation des têtes).

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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. Another work from the same series as the present work, Tête de femme II (fig. 1), 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. In the present work, the third of the 1930 series, Braque 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 papiers collés in 1912. Like those early works, Tête de femme III 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).

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