GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963)
GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963)
GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE STELLA COLLECTION
GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963)

Les Citrons

GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963)
Les Citrons
signed ‘G Braque’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
8 ¼ x 28 7/8 in. (21 x 73.4 cm.)
Painted in 1955
Aimé Maeght, Paris.
(probably) Acquired from the above by the family of the present owners, circa 1960.

Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Georges Braque: Peintures, 1948-1957, Paris, 1959 (illustrated, pl. 99).
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Lot Essay

Georges Braques illustrious contemporaries Picasso, Matisse, Derain and Leger all produced large numbers of still lives and landscape paintings, as well as taking the figure as a subject, to confine ourselves to the traditional categories which each in his own way helped subvert. But Braque was alone in preferring the still life as the territory for his exploration of space of the painting. Nobody else succeeded as he did in transforming a table covered with objects into a mental space, a cerebral as well as visual stimulus. Braques pedestal tables reflect the subjectivity of the painter as much as the objectivity of an utterly ordinary environment.”
(I. Monod-Fontaine, George Braques Still Lifes, in exh. Cat., The Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Andros, Greece, 2003, p.19-25)
Still-life painting was an a constant in Braque’s practice throughout his lifetime, and remains essential to understanding the uniqueness of his genius. His experiments in this genre first appeared in the architectural, analytical style of his Cubist years before World War I. During this conflict which tore Europe apart, he suffered a head injury that prevented him from painting for three years, and caused him to break his early and now notorious collaboration with Pablo Picasso. This traumatic episode surely caused a shift in his artistic journey, as is visible in his oeuvre overall and particularly with this theme.
Beginning with the 1920s, and continuing throughout the 1950s, his still lives became painted in the softer realism of which Les Citrons (1955) from the Stella Collection is a beautiful example. Indeed, in the post-war years, the artist felt inclined to represent a more organic, colorful reality imbued with humanity, as opposed to the mechanistic feature of earlier trials that he now perhaps associated with the technological advances of war-making. As suggested by Isabelle Monod-Fontaine, the seemingly banal and anonymous objects he chose to depict are in fact some of our most intimate gateways into the artist’s mind, at the intersection between his vision and the concrete reality of spaces where he worked. Their mundanity is also the reason for their humility, and what makes them such palpable objects.
Here, the warm combination of earthy browns, greens and yellows present the laid out plate as a touching invitation. Through Braque’s contemplation, the bowl of lemons becomes a visual stand-in for the comfort of the interior, and is likened to that of nature. The impressionistic brushstroke he uses emphasize the viewer’s familiarity with this subject by appealing to his senses: texture, temperature and light. The lemons exist in a defined yet loose structure that is Braque’s own offering to us.
The present work was part of an extensive collection of over 100 works formed throughout the 1950s and 60s. The collection contained works by the towering figures of 20th century art such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Max Ernst, among others. Often acquired either directly from the artists with whom the collector, a German émigré to the US in the 1930s, shared personal friendships, or through their primary dealers such as Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler and Aimé Maeght, historic figures in their own right.

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