Georges Braque's (1882-1963) La Saucière will be offered on Christie's in March 2018.
When Germany invaded France in June 1940, Georges Braque was living in his country house near Varengeville. He remained cloistered in his studio throughout the war years, immersed in his work, particularly after many of the canvases he had left in Livourne were confiscated in 1941. Following several months of abstinence from painting, he eagerly returned to his easel in 1942. As in the case of La saucière, still lifes and interiors naturally became the artist’s favourite subjects.
La saucière was one of the works Braque painted very early on during the Occupation. He arranged the gravy boat, glass, tomato, fork, lemons and cherries on the sloping sidetable, whose angle of inclination does not disrupt the composition’s stability. In the background, Braque reproduced the tiles of the wall by scratching through the still wet paint with the pointed end of his brush and represented patches of light with short dabs of yellow and ochre. In the central still life, various outlines are defined by visible patches of unpainted white canvas, putting into relief the vibrant blues of the fork and the tablecloth.
This picture possesses a distinguished history. Its first owner was Alfred Poyet, who personally knew Braque and bought many canvases from him directly. It was then chosen by the renowned New York dealer and collector Sam Salz. Buying “primarily for himself” and considering that pictures were “sacred things”, Salz is known to have sourced countless masterpieces which he offered to the greatest American museums and collectors, starting in the late 1930s. Paul Mellon, Henry Ford and the Rockefellers were among his clients, as was Alex Lewyt, to whom he sold La saucière in 1952. With his wife, Lewyt, a brilliant inventor and businessman, assembled one of the finest American collections of late 19th and early 20th century art. Their collection included masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Pierre Bonnard, among others, but in particular Paul Gauguin’s Homme à la hache, the painting which, at Christie’s in New York in 2006, achieved the world record price for the artist. At that time, he acquired La saucière, one of the first pictures to enter his collection - Alex Lewyt had decided to settle in France for part of the year. He met his future wife, a Frenchwoman called Elisabeth Roulleau, who shared his passion for art and his affection for the present painting, which he kept for the rest of his life.
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