Archival Labels
Still Life with Clarinet (Bottle and Clarinet)
Georges Braque
Céret, summer–autumn 1911
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Lefranc et Cie

This label, adhered to the top of the stretcher (wooden armature) for Braque's Still Life with Clarinet (Bottle and Clarinet) (1911), identifies its maker as the Parisian art supply shop Lefranc et Cie.

Located in the first arrondissement near the Musée du Louvre, Lefranc et Cie was already a well-known purveyor of art supplies when Braque created this work. The company's origins date to 1720 when Charles Laclef began selling pigments and spices from a storefront near the Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés on the Left Bank. Members of the Laclef family ran the company until 1821, when it merged with Marolle, becoming Marolle-Laclef. The brothers Alphonse and Jules Lefranc joined the business in 1836 and assumed control of it two years later. In 1839 they expanded their offerings to include ink, paint, and other art supplies manufactured at their factory in Grenelle, just southwest Paris. Lefranc et Cie became the company's official name in 1853.

The shop's logo, seen on the right side of the label, is a circle flanked with the letters L and F and containing an anchor bisected by a caduceus (a rod entwined with two pieces of rope topped by a winged helmet). "15 P" appears at left, a reference to a size 15 paysage landscape stretcher, measuring 65 centimeters wide by 50 centimeters high. While the landscape format is traditionally horizontal, Braque oriented this canvas vertically to paint a still life.

Art supply shops like Lefranc et Cie sold pre-primed canvases already mounted to wooden armatures (strainers or stretchers) as well as canvas by the meter. Braque is known to have preferred the latter. The Lefranc et Cie label on the back of Still Life with Clarinet is partially obscured by the canvas, which Braque cut to size and nailed himself with little regard for the aesthetics of his tacking edges.

Lefranc et Cie was affiliated with the manufacturing of Ripolin, an industrial enamel paint named after its inventor, the Dutch chemist Carl Julius Ferdinand Riep. Picasso is known to have to used Ripolin paint in his prewar Cubist works.

For more information, see:

Andral, Jean-Louis, Gwénaëlle Gautier, and Michael Raeburn et al. Picasso Express. Antibes: Musée Picasso, 2011.

An online database of art suppliers in Paris between 1790 and 1960. Guide Labreuche: Guide Historique des Fournisseurs de Matériel pour artistes à Paris 1790–1960

Labreuche, Pascal. Paris, capitale de la toile à peindre: XVIIIe–XIXe siècle. Paris: CTHS/INHA, 2011.

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