Georges Braque was born in Argenteuil near Paris, and raised in Le Havre. Initially apprenticed to a house painter, he studied art at the Académie Humbert in Paris from 1902 to 1904. His art underwent several stylistic changes during his life. About 1906 he, along with his friend Othon Friesz, briefly adopted Fauvism. After he attended the memorial exhibition for Paul Cézanne in 1907, his work reflected more geometric analysis. That year Braque met Pablo Picasso, with whom he collaborated closely on the development of Cubism (1907–14). Their intense relationship, however, did not continue after World War I. After being discharged from the army with a severe head injury in 1915, Braque resumed painting again in 1917.
Braque withdrew and, living in semiseclusion, created still lifes, interiors, and, occasionally, landscapes that combine the formal innovations of Cubism with greater emphasis on the decorative, sensuous, and lyrical aspects of painting. By the 1930s he was internationally recognized as a still-life painter.
In this oil Braque presents a view of his studio, which he had built in 1931 at Varengeville, a small village on the Norman coast near Dieppe. Light from the central window streams into the room, illuminating the flower still life and the palette with brushes at the left and the wicker stool and easel holding a painting at the right. The colorful interior is a sea of merry patterns: floral wallpaper, wood grain, and the basket weave of the chair seat. The patterning continues to the exterior in the cloud-dappled sky.
This oil and the series of large paintings of the same interior that Braque executed between 1946 and 1956 might be regarded as the artist's meditations on his works, both past and present, as well as his surroundings, both real and imagined.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): G Braque / 39
the artist (1939; sold before April to Rosenberg); [Paul Rosenberg & Co., Paris and New York, 1939–68; stock no. 4111; looted from Rosenberg at Floirac in September 1940, as "Grande nature morte au tabouret de paille," and restituted to his private collection after the war; sold by Alexandre Rosenberg on January 19, 1968, to Simon]; Norton Simon, Los Angeles (1968–70); his former wife, Lucille Ellis Simon, Los Angeles (1970–at least 1988; sold to Acquavella); [Acquavella Galleries, New York, until 1990; sold on March 12, 1990 to Annenberg]; Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, Rancho Mirage, California (1990–93; jointly with MMA, 1993–his d. 2002; his bequest to MMA)
Paris. Paul Rosenberg. "Exposition Braque (Œuvres Récentes)," April 4–29, 1939, no. 8 (as "Vase devant la fenêtre").
London. Rosenberg & Helft. "Braque Exhibition: Recent Works," June 6–July 8, 1939, no. 13 (as "Vase devant la fenêtre").
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Georges Braque," January 26–March 13, 1949, no. 75 (as "The Studio," lent by Paul Rosenberg, New York).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Georges Braque," March 29–June 12, 1949, no. 75.
Edinburgh. Royal Scottish Academy. "G. Braque: An Exhibition of Paintings," August 18–September 15, 1956, no. 76 (as "The Studio," lent by a private collection, U. S. A.).
London. Tate Gallery. "G. Braque: An Exhibition of Paintings," September 28–November 11, 1956, no. 76.
Paris. Musée du Louvre. "L'Atelier de Braque," November 1961, no. 36 (as "L'Atelier," lent by a private collection, New York).
New York. Paul Rosenberg & Co. "Georges Braque, 1882–1963: An American Tribute. The Thirties," April 7–May 2, 1964, no. 42 (as "The Studio," lent by a private collection, New York).
New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Seven Decades, 1895–1965: Crosscurrents in Modern Art. 1935–1944," April 26–May 21, 1966, no. 229 (as "The Studio," lent by Paul Rosenberg and Co., New York).
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Georges Braque," June 10–September 11, 1988, no. 57 (as "The Studio [L'Atelier]," lent by Lucille Ellis Simon, Los Angeles).
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 6–August 5, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 127; as "The Studio").
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," August 16–November 11, 1990, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," June 4–October 13, 1991, unnumbered cat.
Howard Devree. "Chiefly Abstract: The Braque Retrospective and Other Shows." New York Times (April 3, 1949), ill. p. X8.
John Richardson. "The Ateliers of Braque." Burlington Magazine 97 (June 1955), pp. 164–66, fig. 4, as "Atelier"; calls it a prototype for the series of Ateliers begun in 1949, noting that the shape on the easel evolves into a large bird in the later paintings.
Maurice Gieure. G. Braque. Paris, 1956, pp. 55–56, 69, 101, pl. 95, as "The Studio".
Douglas Cooper. G. Braque: An Exhibition of Paintings. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. London, 1956, pp. 19, 24, 47, no. 76, pl. 23i, observes that this is the first picture in which Braque distributes the still life elements across the canvas.
"The Work of Georges Braque: Exhibited at Edinburgh." Illustrated London News 229 (September 1, 1956), p. 345, ill.
John Russell. G. Braque. London, 1959, p. 29, pl. 55.
René Ben Sussan in John Russell. G. Braque. London, 1959, p. 125, notes that this picture marks the first appearance of the theme of the bird.
Jean Leymarie. Braque. Lausanne, 1961, pp. 8, 90–91, 95, ill. (color), as "The Studio".
Nicole S. Mangin. Catalogue de l'œuvre de Georges Braque. Vol. , Peintures 1936–1941. [Paris], 1961, ill. p. 59, calls it "L'Atelier (au tabouret)".
Stanislas Fumet. Georges Braque. Paris, 1965, p. 216, ill. p. 122 (color), as "L'atelier au tabouret".
Edwin Mullins. Braque. London, 1968, p. 166, fig. 130 (color), as "The Studio".
Douglas Cooper. Braque: The Great Years. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1972, pp. 24, 77–78, 88, fig. 61.
Dennis Adrian. "Georges Braque's Monumental Still-Lifes." Art News 71 (November 1972), pp. 31, 33.
Raymond Cogniat. Georges Braque. New York, 1980, pp. 134, 138, colorpl. 36, as "The Studio".
John Russell. The Meanings of Modern Art. New York, 1981, p. 285, ill. p. 283, as "Studio (with a Wooden Stool)".
Nadine Pouillon with Isabelle Monod-Fontaine. Braque:Œuvres de Georges Braque (1882–1963). Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1982, pp. 147, 150–51, under no. 36, fig. 1.
Magdalena M. Moeller in Jean Leymarie. Georges Braque. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Munich, 1988, p. 29.
Jean Leymarie. Georges Braque. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Munich, 1988, unpaginated, no. 57, ill. (color).
Jérôme Coignard. "Le Salon de peinture de Mr. et Mrs. Annenberg." Beaux Arts no. 92 (July–August 1991), pp. 65–66.
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Colin B. Bailey, Joseph J. Rishel, and Mark Rosenthal. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, pp. 126–27, 210–11, ill. (color and bw).
Karen Wilkin. Georges Braque. New York, 1991, fig. 57 (color).
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1993–1994." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 52 (Fall 1994), p. 65, ill. (color), as "The Studio".
Martin Ries. "Braque's Ateliers and the Symbolic Bird." Journal of Aesthetic Education 29 (Summer 1995), pp. 71, 74, 77.
John Golding inBraque: The Late Works. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1997, pp. 7–8, 12, fig. 6, calls it "Studio with a Stool" and erroneously locates it still in the Lucille Ellis Simon collection.
Sophie Bowness inBraque: The Late Works. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1997, p. 74, under no. 19.
Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Artnews 97 (May 1998), pp. 145, 147, quotes Annenberg's recollection of originally turning down the purchase of this picture in the late 1970s because "our tastes had not advanced enough to truly appreciate it".
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. 286–89, no. 54, ill. (color), as "The Studio (Vase before a Window)".
Armand Israël. Georges Braque: Père du Cubisme, initiateur de l'art contemporain. Paris, 2013, p. 269, ill. (color), calls it "L'Atelier au tabouret" and erroneously locates it in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.