In their quest to upend tradition in art, Braque and Pablo Picasso remained somewhat ironically committed to long-established subjects in European painting: portraiture, the human figure, and still life. Here, Braque’s still life seduces the viewer with fragments of recognizable objects. In the lower center of the composition, a table corner emerges from the painting’s tonal palette of grays, browns, and blacks. Farther back, the base of a brass candlestick appears atop a table. To the right float two playing cards: the ace of hearts and the six of diamonds. The oval canvas concentrates and compresses the painting’s energy.
Inscription: Signed (verso): Braque
[Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris, from 1910; acquired from the artist; stock no. 517]; ?[Wilhelm Uhde, Paris, by 1914; sequestered Uhde stock, 1914–21; Uhde sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 30, 1921, possibly no. 16, as "Nature morte," sold for Fr 587.50]; André Lefèvre, Paris; ?[Galerie Percier, Paris]; [Sidney Janis Gallery, New York]; [Perls Galleries, New York, until 1952; stock no. 5084; sold on March 24, 1952, for $9,500, to Rübel]; Peter and Elizabeth Rübel, Cos Cob, Conn. and New York (1952–at least 1971; to Perls Galleries); [Perls Galleries (Klaus G. Perls), New York, by 1980]; Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, New York (until 1997; their gift to MMA)
New York. Perls Galleries. "The Perls Galleries Collection of Modern French Paintings," March 3–April 5, 1952, no. 18 (as "Le Jaquet" [sic]).
New York. Perls Galleries. "Picasso-Braque-Gris: Cubism to 1918," January 4–February 6, 1954, no. 12 (as "Le Jaquet [The Backgammon]," 1910, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Peter A. Rübel).
Baltimore Museum of Art. "Man and His Years," October 19–November 21, 1954, no. 116 (as "Le Jacquet," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Peter A. Rubel).
New York. Perls Galleries. "Maîtres de la première génération du vingtième siècle: A Group of Paintings in the Collection of Peter and Elizabeth Rübel, New York," March 13–April 13, 1957 (later traveled to several cities in the United States), no. 38 (as "Le Taquet" [sic], about 1910–11).
New York. Saidenberg Gallery. "Georges Braque, 1882–1963: An American Tribute. Fauvism and Cubism," April 7–May 2, 1964, no. 16 (as "Still Life with Backgammon Board," lent by Mr. Peter A. Rübel, New York).
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "A Selection of 20th Century Art of 3 Generations," November 24–December 26, 1964, no. 3 (as "Le Jacquet," 1910–11, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Peter A. Rübel).
Saint-Paul. Fondation Maeght. "Georges Braque," July 5–September 30, 1980, no. 33 (as "Le jacquet," 1910–11, lent by Perls Galleries, New York).
Nagoya City Art Museum. "Perspective of 20th Century Paintings," April 23–June 19, 1988, no. 52 (as "Le Jacquet," 1910–11, lent by Perls Galleries, New York).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism," September 24, 1989–January 16, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 174; as "Still Life with Candlestick and Playing Cards," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Klaus Perls).
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "G. Braque," June 13–November 8, 1992, no. 18 (as "Le Jacquet," lent by Perls Galleries, New York).
Saint-Paul. Fondation Maeght. "Georges Braque rétrospective," July 5–October 15, 1994, no. 28 (as "Le Jacquet," lent by Perls Galleries, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 68; as "Candlestick and Playing Cards," [Winter 1909–10]).
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 14 (as "Candlestick and Playing Cards on a Table," [Autumn 1910]).
Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 14.
George Isarlov. Georges Braque. Paris, 1932, p. 17, no. 87, as "Le Guéridon," 1910.
Guillaume Apollinaire. Georges Braque. Paris, 1933, ill. p. 17, date it end of 1908.
Carl Einstein. Georges Braque. Paris, 1934, pl. VI, as "Le Jaquet" [sic], 1910.
Michel Seuphor. L'Art abstrait: Ses origines, ses premiers maîtres. Paris, 1949, ill. p. 136, as "Le Guéridon, " 1910.
L[arry]. C[ampbell]. "Reviews and Previews: Contemporary French." Art News 51 (March 1952), p. 57, calls it "Backgammon".
Georg Schmidt inMaîtres de la première génération du vingtième siècle: A Group of Paintings in the Collection of Peter and Elizabeth Rübel, New York. Exh. cat.Zurich, 1956, pp. 11, 88–89, no. 38, ill.
"The Rübel Collection." Arts 31 (March 1957), ill. p. 37, as "Backgammon," 1910–11.
E. C. M. "Reviews and Previews: Rubel Collection." Art News 56 (April 1957), p. 12.
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. Der Weg zum Kubismus. Stuttgart, 1958, pp. 49, 62, 127, ill. p. 55, as "Stilleben mit Spielkarten," in a private collection, United States.
Stanislas Fumet. Georges Braque. Paris, 1965, p. 215, ill. p. 30, as "Le guéridon".
Raymond Cogniat. Braque. New York, 1970, ill. p. 16, as "The Gueridon" in the Peter A. Reebel [sic] collection, New York.
Massimo Carrà. L'Opera completa di Braque dalla scomposizione cubista al recupero dell'oggetto 1908–1929. Milan, 1971, p. 88, no. 60, ill., calls it "Natura Morta su un Tavolo (Il tavolino)" and locates it in the Rübel collection, New York.
Malcolm Gee. Dealers, Critics, and Collectors of Modern Painting: Aspects of the Parisian Art Market Between 1910 and 1930. PhD diss., Courtauld Institute of Art. New York, 1981, appendix F, p. 54, no. 92, tentatively identifies it as no. 16 in the 1921 Uhde sale.
Nicole Worms de Romilly and Jean Laude. [Catalogue de l'œuvre de Georges Braque]. Vol. , Le Cubisme, fin 1907–1914. [Paris], 1982, p. 267, no. 64, ill. p. 114 (color), call it "Nature Morte (Still Life)" and date it 1909–10; locate it in the Perls Galleries, New York.
William Rubin, ed. Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1989, ill. p. 174 (color), tentatively dates it L'Estaque, autumn 1910.
Jean-Louis Prat, ed. G. Braque. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 1992, pp. 64–65, no. 18, ill. (color), identifies backgammon as the subject of this picture; discusses the theme of games for Braque and Picasso related to their development of Cubism, a combination of calculation and chance, rules and fun.
Joseph Low (Pepe) Karmel. "Picasso's Laboratory: The Role of his Drawings in the Development of Cubism, 1910–14." PhD diss., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1993, vol. 3, pp. 371–73, no. 28; vol. 4, fig. 28, calls it "Candlestick and Playing Cards" and dates it spring 1910, noting that it appears in Kahnweiler's stockbook among a group of works that entered the gallery in summer 1910.
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1996–1997." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Fall 1997), p. 70, ill. (color), calls it "Still Life with Candlestick and Playing Cards"; identifies the two playing cards, the ace of hearts and the six of diamonds, to the right of the candlestick; calls this one of the Braque's first oval canvases.
William S. Lieberman inPicasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 2002, pp. 56, 58, 166, no. 14, ill. (color).
B. Marrey in Wilhelm Uhde. De Bismarck à Picasso. Paris, 2002, p. 290 [possibly this picture].
Harry Cooper inPicasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment 1910–1912. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. Santa Barbara, 2011, pp. 43–44, fig. 4 (color).