The discrete white sticker on the back of Georges Braque’s Violin and Sheet Music “Petit Oiseau” (1913) is among the smallest and most simple types of labels to be found in the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. Its format and basic information, rendered by a typewriter, testify to its function as a museum registrar’s inventory number for a loan exhibition, in this case Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition, held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from July 12–September 3, 1963.
Chicago-born Alex Hillman (1900–1968), a publisher and financial investor, and his wife, Rita K. Hillman (née Kanerek; 1912–2007), purchased the painting in 1949. They displayed their collection of European Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and early twentieth-century modernism in their Billy Baldwin-decorated Park Avenue apartment. By the early 1960s, the Hillmans were considered among the leading American collectors of modern art. They established a fund at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, that resulted in key acquisitions for that institution and were particularly close to the Metropolitan Museum’s chief curator at the time, Theodore Rousseau, who served as their advisor.