A small piece of paper is stuck to the lower left front corner of Braque’s Bottle of Rum (1914). The small number "19," printed in white on dark blue paper, indicates the lot number of the painting, which was included in the second liquidation sale of the art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler’s collection, held at the Paris auction house Hôtel Drouot on November 18, 1921.
Kahnweiler, a German national residing in France, was strongly opposed to World War I. With the help of his friend Hermann Rupf, he spent that bleak period in neutral Switzerland. Kahnweiler used his forced hiatus to write the foundational theoretical text on Cubism, Der Weg zum Kubismus (The Rise of Cubism), completed in 1916 and first published in 1920.
Kahnweiler continued to pay rent on his Parisian gallery throughout the war, but because he was a German citizen, the entire stock of his gallery was seized and sold off in a series of four auctions (June 13–14, 1921; November 17–18, 1921; July 4th, 1922; and May 7–8, 1923). The dealer Léonce Rosenberg was hired as an “expert” to provide estimates for the works. This was hardly an impartial appointment, as Rosenberg had begun representing Kahnweiler’s artists during the war, including Braque and Gris. Artists were justifiably concerned that the sales would flood the market, and at a viewing the evening prior to the first sale, Braque, Vlaminck, and Derain showed up to protest the liquidation. A fist fight ensued between Rosenberg and Braque, who had to be restrained by the artist Amédée Ozenfant. Other associates of Kahnweiler made their opposition known more quietly: the collector Roger Dutilleul refused to buy works from the sales and instead acquired Kahnweiler’s archives, which he restituted to their former owner.
In the catalogue for the second Kahnweiler sequestration sale in November 1921, Braque’s Bottle of Rum is listed simply as Nature Morte (Still Life). It was sold for 510 francs to an unnamed bidder, and entered the collection of Count Étienne de Beaumont shortly thereafter. A similar label is found on the backboard of Picasso's Landscape (1908) in the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. It is printed with the number "16" and was sold in the third Kahnweiler sale.
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