after George Braque - Hommage to J S Bach


Original etching in colours, circa 1950, on Rives BSK (watermarked) paper, signed and inscribed in pencil, ‘VISAT SCULP’ printed lower left, with full margins.

Published by: Gallery Maeght, Paris


1.Vallier, Dora, Braque: The Complete Graphics, 1982, listed as Maeght no. 1019 on page 293.

2. Mullins, Edwin, The Art of Georges Braque, original painting listed as cat no.49 on pg 73.

3. de Romilly, Nicole Worms and Jean Laude, Braque: Cubism 1907-1914, 1982, original painting listed as cat no 122 on pg 157.

4. Rubin, William, Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism, 1989, original painting listed on pg 215.

Maeght Catalogue 1019

Note: Georges Braque Hommage à J.S. Bach, c. 1950s is a Cubist work. The prototype for this, a large oil on canvas, is in the Museum of Modern Art, New York and was acquired in 2008. John Elderfield, then the museum’s Chief Curator Emeritus, said the purchase would help rectify a shortcoming. While “we can do a month-by-month account of Cubism,” he said, “in that story Braque comes out second to Picasso. I always felt he didn’t get a fair shake.”. Braque was a trained classical musician, and Johann Sebastian Bach, whose polyphonic compositions are musical analogues to the shifting planes and multiple perspectives of Analytic Cubism, was one of his favourite composers.

Bach’s initials on this work,This explicit placement of Bach’s name yields more than mere admiration of his music and art historians have found an analogue between Bach’s polyphony and counterpoint and the angles and perspectives of Braque’s cubist works. If we think about the form that is most associated with Bach, the fugue, we find a careful balance of four distinct voices woven together. In listening to his many fugues it is possible to feel a parallel with the sense of line and architecture in Braque’s painting. Yet beyond this fairly abstract comparison there are similarities in terms of form and practice between the two men. The writer and art historian responsible for much of the early scholarship on Braque, Carl Eisenstein, speaks of Braque’s meticulous and tireless pursuit of perfection in his still life variations. By limiting himself to specific forms and motifs, Eisenstein says, Braque heightens his images to new levels of technical achievement. The same sense of economy of means applies to some of Bach’s music: in choosing a single theme and subjecting it to a series of variations, he evinces the endless possibilities that can be generated from a single musical idea. The initials that Braque used in this homage, B-A-C-H, actually form a four note musical motif in German (B-flat, A, C, B-natural), which many composers have used in their music, most notably Bach himself in his Art of Fugue. From this four note musical cell Bach’s weaves a thematic tapestry of ceaseless invention, in the same way that Braque’s paintings reimagine motifs with nuanced differences and variations

The original painting was created during a time when Braque was deep into Analytical Cubism, of which many of the elements are seen here. First, this Etching has a very beige colour palate, made mostly of tans and greys. Secondly, there is little depth to the image. Appearing out of the cubist shapes are some of the parts of a violin – in the left hand side you see some strings, and towards the right, the gentle curl of the end of the instrument.

Printed by: Unknown

Size: 17.25" x 23"; Sheet: 21.75" x 29.75"; (Image: 44 x 58 cm)

Edition: 300

Condition: Some hinge marks verso not showing recto, minor folds and creases, otherwise in good condition