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

Fruits, cruche et pipe

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Fruits, cruche et pipe
signed 'G Braque' (lower right)
oil on panel
16 5/8 x 23½ in. (42.1 x 59.5 cm.)
Painted in 1924
Mr & Mrs Cummins Catherwood, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Galerie D. Benador, Geneva (no. 0724).
Acquired by the family of the present owner between 1960 and 1970.
G. Isarlov, Catalogue des oeuvres de Georges Braque, Paris, 1932, no. 34.
J. Russell, Braque, London, 1959, pl. 34 (illustrated).
Galerie Maeght (ed.), Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures, 1924-1927, Paris, 1968, p. 14 (illustrated).
M. Carrà, L'opera completa di Georges Braque, dalla scomposizione cubista al recupero dell'oggetto, 1908-1929, Milan, 1973, no. 217 (illustrated).
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia collects: XXth century.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Natures mortes françaises, 1951.
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Lot Essay

Fruits, cruche et pipe is an exceptional example of the still- lifes Braque painted between the years 1924 and 1928. This series of natures mortes is a culmination of the more painterly technique the artist began to develop in 1917 when he resumed painting after being injured while serving in the First World War. Such works mark a distinct contrast with the early Cubist still-lifes, that he had painted while working alongside Picasso, where the objects had been fragmented and rearranged to simultaneously convey several points of view. Nonetheless the pictorial solutions he and Picasso had proposed during their Cubist experiments underpin the clear and implacably strict inner logic of the present composition. The central, close-up composition of the jug, pipe, grapes and two vibrant lemons on a green table-cloth is enlivened by the white contours of the objects, transfixing the onlooker's gaze.

The new creative phase on which Braque embarked after the war was one that Herbert Read has described as 'the geometrical idiom was gradually modified, to be replaced by freer and more cursive forms, a private iconography of impeccable taste - an art as serene and comforting as Matisse's. Braque became what is sometimes called 'a painter's painter', so that from the point of view of a painter of a younger is possible to maintain that he was 'the greatest living painter', and in so doing 'to remind a contemporary audience, fed to satiety on brilliant innovation, frenzied novelty and every variety of spontaneous expression, that, after all, permanence, grandeur, deliberation, lucidity and calm are paramount virtues of the art of painting''(H. Read, A Concise History of Modern Painting, London, 1968, p. 81).

Fruits, cruche et pipe elevates the still-life to an ennobled genre, proving Braque to be a natural heir to the French masters Jean-Baptiste Chardin and Paul Cézanne. The artist's focus on such ordinary and basic items related to the daily repast invokes a contemplative mood, a consideration of and reverence for things profoundly human. 'All these objects truly belong to Braque, they are part of the tactile or manual space which he so frequently mentioned. Caressed by his hand - which has held the glass, touched the guitar, poured water from the jug - and by his visionary imagination, they are the interface between the artist's inner world and the space where he works. The object then is not a barrier to thought, but on the contrary, stimulates it, becoming an integral part of the process of thought-painting which is at the core of Braque's work. The object becomes the subject of contemplation, in the fullest sense of the word' (I. Monod-Fontaine, 'Georges Braque's Still-lifes', in exh. cat. Braque: Order and Emotion, Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros, Greece, 2003, p. 19).

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