L'aquarium au verre, 1944
Oil on card laid on canvas
10 x 13 inches
Galerie Maeght, Paris; Galerie Stiebel, Paris; Richard & Florence Weil, St. Louis, Missouri, 1952. Gifted by Mr & Mrs Richard Weil to The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, New York in March 1956. This work was held in the Vassar College collection until May 2012.
Galerie Maeght, ed., Catalogue se l'oeuvre de Georges Braque, Peintures 1942-1947, Paris, 1960, no. 82 (illustrated).
Royal Academy of Arts, Braque: The Late Works, London, 1997, pp. 38 & 86 (The present painting can be seen in a photograph by Brassai (opposite) of Braque's studio, c. 1946).
Note: When Braque painted this work, Cubism was thirty years old and the artist had greatly modified his approach to the movement. He replaced the complexity and intellectual rigor of early Cubism with a less fragmented structure and brighter colour. The multiple view points of his earlier still lifes have given way to a more unified perspective on a simpler composition. To unify his picture, Braque used visual rhymes such as the fish tails and the angular notches of the green and yellow background. Despite the tilting planes and jagged shapes, the painting has the compositional balance and structure faithful to the classical ideals of the French painting tradition.
The present painting was the first of Braque's fish bowl series and the motif was repeated in many paintings throughout the 1940s and early 50s. In 1944 France was still under Nazi occupation and his fish bowl series can be seen as a poetic metaphor for the entrapment he and his countrymen felt.