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

Raisin, pommes et cruche

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Raisin, pommes et cruche
signed 'G Braque' (lower left)
oil on panel
10¼ x 21 5/8 in. (26 x 55 cm.)
Painted in 1924
M. Orbes, Paris (by 1932).
Acquired by the present owner, 2001.
G. Isarlov, Catalogue des oeuvres de Georges Braque, Paris, 1932,
no. 351.
Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures 1924-1927, Zurich, 1968, no. 25 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Having recovered from the head wound he had received during the fighting at Carency during the First World War, Braque resumed painting in 1917, and during the early 1920s he achieved well-deserved if belated success. He sold all eighteen of the major paintings that he exhibited at the 1922 Salon d'Automne. Paul Rosenberg, who had done much to further Pablo Picasso's fortunes in the years following the First World War, became Braque's dealer as well, and gave the artist an important show in May 1924. As it had been during his cubist years, the painter's primary theme was the still-life. Braque said, "I was painting from nature. That is even what pointed me in the direction of still-life. Here I found an element that was more objective than landscape. The discovery of the tactile space that set my arm in motion when I was confronted with a landscape was beckoning me to seek an even closer sensual contact. If a still-life is no longer within my grasp, it seems to me that it ceases to be a still-life or to move me" (quoted in Georges Braque, Order and Emotion, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros, 2003, p. 20). He chose the most ordinary, everyday objects; he had no interest in the sleekly designed consumer goods that fascinated Fernand Léger. Edwin Mullins has written:

"The mid-1920s were rich in small still-lifes. These cabinet-paintings, which manage to combine so effortlessly the French nature morte tradition with a new pictorial language developed from Cubism, are in some respects the very quintessence of Braque. Small in scale, humble in theme, exuding an unaffected relish for the pleasures of plain bourgeois living they are the purest examples of Braque the craftsman, and of Braque the lover of things simple and everyday. They are also Braque's point of closest contact with that earlier master of intimate still-life, Chardin, and through him the Dutch seventeenth-century still-lifes that were so popular with the French in Chardin's day, and about which the term 'cabinet-pictures' was first used" (Braque, London, 1968, pp. 108-109).

Braque described his new pictorial goal as exploring "how far one can go in blending volume and color" (quoted in J. Leymarie, Georges Braque, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1988, p. 27). The present painting shows areas of the black ground that Braque favored using in his still-lifes from 1918 into the late 1920s. The still-life elements have been rendered as flattened shapes that act as simple "signs" for the objects they represent, as in cubist practice. Braque has created spatial depth by contrasting the broad white form of the table top against darker forms that lay before it, against which the characteristic colors of the various fruits resonate more strongly. The artist often employed elongated horizontal formats during this period, allowing him to disperse the focal points in his still-life compositions, resulting in a sense of casual intimacy and relaxed pliancy not previously encountered in his art. Isabelle Monod-Fontaine has written: "nobody else succeeded as he did in transforming a table covered with objects into a mental space, a cerebral as well as a visual stimulus" (exh. cat., op. cit., 2003, p. 19).

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