Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

The Billiard Table

Artist:
Georges Braque (French, Argenteuil 1882–1963 Paris)
Date:
1944–52
Medium:
Oil with sand and charcoal on canvas
Dimensions:
71 1/4 x 38 1/2 in. (181 x 97.8 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
1999.363.9
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 905
The folding perspective and arrangement of objects around the table are the result of a slow and methodical process by which Braque related the space of the room to the flat surface of the picture. Braque began the series of seven billiard tables in September 1944. Together with the eight pictures of the Studio series, they represent the artist's largest and final major works.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): G Braque
the artist (until 1953; to Maeght); Aimé Maeght, Paris (1953); [Galerie Maeght, Paris, 1953–54; sold on January 26, 1954, for Fr 4,200,000, to Gelman]; Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1954–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)

Paris. Galerie Maeght. "G. Braque," June–July 1952, no. 2 [published in "Derrière le miroir," no. 48–49, June–July 1952].

Tokyo National Museum. "Exposition des Oeuvres de Georges Braque à Tokio," September–October 1952, no. 15.

New York. Theodore Schempp & Co. "Important Recent Paintings by Georges Braque," February 20–March 14, 1953, unnumbered cat.

Kunsthalle Bern. "Georges Braque," April 25–May 31, 1953, no. 108 (as "Le Billard," lent by the artist).

Munich. Haus der Kunst. "Georges Braque," October 18–December 15, 1963, no. 123 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Gelman, Mexico City).

New York. M. Knoedler and Co., Inc. "Georges Braque, 1882–1963: An American Tribute. The Late Years (1940–63) and The Sculpture," April 7–May 2, 1964, no. 35 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Gelman, New York).

Paris. Orangerie des Tuileries. "Georges Braque," October 16, 1973–January 14, 1974, no. 110 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Gelman, Mexico).

Saint-Paul. Fondation Maeght. "Georges Braque," July 5–September 30, 1980, no. 123 (lent by a private collection, New York).

Washington. Phillips Collection. "Georges Braque: The Late Paintings 1940–1963," October 9–December 12, 1982, no. 14 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Gelman).

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Georges Braque: The Late Paintings 1940–1963," January 1–March 15, 1983, no. 14.

Minneapolis. Walker Art Center. "Georges Braque: The Late Paintings 1940–1963," April 14–June 14, 1983, no. 14.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Georges Braque: The Late Paintings 1940–1963," July 7–September 14, 1983, no. 14.

New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Georges Braque," June 10–September 11, 1988, no. 71.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 250).

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 274).

New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Georges Braque: Pioneer of Modernism," October 12–November 30, 2011, no. 38.

Washington. Phillips Collection. "Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life, 1928-1945," June 8–September 1, 2013, no. 41.

Ingrid Rydbeck-Zuhr. "Samtal i en ateljé." Konstrevy 23 (1947), ill. p. 205 (installation photo by Brassaï of Braque's studio), shows an earlier state of this painting.

Waldemar George. "Braque, l'ouvrier." Art et industrie no. 25 (October 1952), ill. p. 13.

G[eorges]. Ribemont-Dessaignes. "A propos d'une nature morte." Le Point: Braque 46 (October 1953), ill. p. 36.

Fritz Laufer. Braque. Bern, 1954, p. 27, pl. 45, as "Billard mit Tisch und Stuhl (Le billard)".

John Richardson. "The Ateliers of Braque." Burlington Magazine 97 (June 1955), pp. 164, 166.

John Richardson. "Le nouvel 'Atelier' de Braque." L'Oeil no. 6 (June 15, 1955), p. 21.

Maurice Gieure. G. Braque. Paris, 1956, pp. 63, 65, 102, pl. 117, as "Billiards"; notes that it could be seen in the Galerie Maeght before being sent to Mexico; lists two other versions (Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris; Mangin 1960, p. 69 and the former Leigh Block collection, Chicago, now Museo de Arte Contemporàneo, Caracas; Mangin 1959, p. 12).

Jean-Albert Cartier. "La Poétique de Braque." Le Jardin des arts no. 26 (December 1956), pp. 91–92, ill.

Raymond Cogniat. "Braque à 75 ans." Prisme des arts no. 13 ([1957]), ill. p. 35.

John Russell. G. Braque. London, 1959, p. 15.

Nicole S. Mangin. Catalogue de l'œuvre de Georges Braque. Vol. [7], Peintures 1948–1957. Paris, 1959, ill. p. 37, as "Le Billard".

René Ben Sussan in John Russell. G. Braque. London, 1959, p. 126, under no. 63.

John Richardson. G. Braque. Greenwich, Conn., 1961, p. 22, colorpl. 52 [Italian ed., Milan, 1960], reproduces a chalk sketch for this picture (Q. Laurens Archive, Paris).

Edwin Mullins. Braque. London, 1968, p. 149, fig. 119.

Nadine Pouillon. Braque. Paris, 1970, unpaginated, under pl. 13, ill.

Douglas Cooper. Braque: The Great Years. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1972, pp. 22, 84, no. 30, colorpl. 13 and fig. 69, notes that the sketch for this painting appears in Braque's 1944 album; comments that the three major Billiard pictures "seem to have originated in Braque's mind at more or less the same moment," while placing the Paris version first, followed by our painting, and ending with the Caracas version.

Robert Hughes. "Objects as Poetics." Time 100 (October 9, 1972), pp. 68–69, ill. (color), states that this picture was withdrawn from Exh. Chicago 1972.

Jean Leymarie in Georges Braque. Exh. cat., Orangerie des Tuileries. Paris, 1973, p. 49, no. 110, ill. (color) pp. 16, 145.

Raymond Cogniat. Georges Braque. New York, 1980, p. 146, fig. 65.

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. 134, 136, under no. 33, fig. 3, note that there are at least seven known Billiard pictures, from 1944–49; of the three large scale versions, considers the MNAM version to be the first, followed by the MMA picture, and ending with the Caracas picture.

Herschel B. Chipp. Georges Braque: The Late Paintings 1940–1963. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection. Washington, 1982, pp. 20–21, 37, no. 14, ill. p. 54 (color), recounts Claude Laurens's recollection that Braque did not actually own a billiard table and surmises that it may have been "a youthful memory" of the artist's; states that of the three large Billiard pictures, ours is the second, begun at the same time as the first (Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris); places "The Small Billiard Table" (1945; now Tate Modern, London; not in Mangin) chronologically between the MMA and Caracas versions.

Magdalena M. Moeller in Jean Leymarie. Georges Braque. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Munich, 1988, pp. 29–30.

Michael Brenson. "What Does a Museum Owe an Artist?" New York Times (July 10, 1988), p. H41.

Bernard Zurcher. Georges Braque: Life and Work. New York, 1988, pp. 194–96, colorpl. 147.

Jean Leymarie. Georges Braque. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Munich, 1988, unpaginated, no. 71, ill. (color) and on front cover (color), notes that although it was begun at the beginning of the Billiard series, it was the last to be completed.

Pierre Schneider in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 30 n. 3, recounts that when Jacques Gelman acquired this painting, he removed it from the wall in Aimé Maeght's dining room while having lunch at the dealer's home.

Sabine Rewald in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 250–53, 296, ill. (color, bw, and Brassai installation photo), notes that Braque worked on the Billiard series from September 1944 until 1952; considers ours to be last of the three large scale Billiard pictures since it was reworked and completed in 1952; identifies the Brassaï photograph of the earlier state of this picture as showing Braque's studio in Varengeville in 1945 [see Ref. Shiff 2011].

William S. Lieberman in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 14–15, notes that this was the first Braque painting owned by the Gelmans.

John Golding in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 38.

John Russell. "20th-Century Works Collected By a Couple With a Shared Vision." New York Times (December 12, 1989), pp. C19, C24.

Karen Wilkin. Georges Braque. New York, 1991, pp. 83–85, fig. 70 (color), dates it 1945–52 and calls it the last in the series.

John Golding in Braque: The Late Works. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1997, pp. 5–6.

Sophie Bowness in Braque: The Late Works. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1997, pp. 52, 54, 58, 60, 86, no. 13A, ill. pp. 38 (installation photo, early state), 61 (color), notes that in 1952 Braque reworked the left-hand side of this picture in particular; discusses three sketchbook drawings and a gouache sketch related to this painting.

Sophie Bowness. "Framed: Georges Braque." Tate: The Art Magazine no. 11 (Spring 1997), p. 18.

Heike Eipeldauer in Georges Braque. Ed. Ingried Brugger, Heike Eipeldauer, and Caroline Messensee. Exh. cat., Vienna Bank Austria Kunstforum. Ostfildern, 2008, p. 194.

Richard Shiff in Georges Braque: Pioneer of Modernism. Exh. cat., Acquavella Galleries. New York, 2011, pp. 41–42, 146, 150, colorpl. 38, ill. p. 25 (Brassaï installation photo), identifies the Brassaï photograph of an earlier state of this painting as showing Braque's studio on the rue Douanier, Paris in March 1946 [see Ref. Rewald 1989].

Dieter Buchhart in Georges Braque: Pioneer of Modernism. Exh. cat., Acquavella Galleries. New York, 2011, p. 66.

Alfred MacAdam. "Georges Braque: Acquavella." Art News 110 (December 2011), p. 101, ill. (color).

Gordon Hughes in Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life, 1928-1945. Exh. cat., Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. St. Louis, 2013, pp. 83, 229, colorpl. 41.

Armand Israël. Georges Braque: Père du Cubisme, initiateur de l'art contemporain. Paris, 2013, ill. p. 266 (color), erroneously locates it still in a private collection.



There are seven paintings in the Billiard table series. The three largest are the MMA painting, one in the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris (Mangin 1960, p. 69), and one in the Museo de Arte Contemporàneo, Caracas (Mangin 1959, p. 12). The remaining four, showing partial views of the billiard table, are in the Tate Modern, London (not in Mangin), an unknown collection (Mangin 1960, p. 96) and two in the Claude Laurens collection (both not in Mangin).
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