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Trees at L'Estaque
Georges Braque
L'Estaque, summer 1908
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Cooper

Braque's Trees at L'Estaque (1908) is one of twenty works in the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection that was previously owned by the British art historian and collector Douglas Cooper. Cooper's collection label is affixed to the back of the Braque and is printed with the address of Cooper's residence in London's Belgravia district, just west of Buckingham Palace. The address was crossed out and replaced with "18 Egerton Terrace," where Cooper moved in 1947 with his partner Basil Amulree, physician and Liberal Whip in the House of Lords (the Upper House of the British Parliament). The art historian John Richardson, who has written a memoir about his own years as Cooper's partner, moved into one of the couple's guest rooms in 1949. Richardson recalled that the cream-colored walls and "genteel decor" clashed with Cooper's large collection of Cubist paintings, which covered every available surface.

Cooper intended his collection to be a historical chronicle of the development of the work of Braque, Gris, Léger, and Picasso, the four artists that he considered the exponents of "True Cubism." This approach, initiated by the dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, was also the collecting strategy of G.F. Reber, the Lausanne-based industrialist who amassed one of the most important pre–World War II private collections of Cubist art. Much of Cooper's collection was purchased directly from Reber between 1932 and 1939, when Reber suffered financial losses in the stock market crash of 1929. Although Braque's Trees at l'Estaque had been owned by Reber, Cooper missed the opportunity to buy it from him, and instead acquired it in 1945 from Reber's friend Paul bey Adamidi Frashëri, a Geneva-based Albanian collector with ties to the Royal Court of King Zog. For Cooper, the painting's historical significance was clear: it marked Braque's exit from Fauvism and the beginning of the faceting that would define Braque's and Picasso's work in the following years.

For more information, see:

Braun, Emily. “Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism: Cooper, Douglas.” In Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/research/leonard-lauder-research-center/programs-and-resources/index-of-cubist-art-collectors/cooper (January 2015)

Cooper, Douglas. The Cubist Epoch. Exh. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; 1970–71. London: Phaidon, 1970.

Cooper, Douglas, and Gary Tinterow. The Essential Cubism, 1907–1920: Braque, Picasso and Their Friends. Exh. cat. London: Tate Gallery, 1983. (See in particular Cooper's essay "Early Purchasers of True Cubist Art," pp. 15–32.)

Richardson, John. The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.

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