Braque and the birth of Cubism

The three versions of “Viaduct at l’Estaque” (Le Viaduc de L’Estaque) come from George Braque’s second visit to l’Estaque in 1907, on the coast, just north of Marseilles, where Cezanne painted a generation earlier and which painter Braque was now clearly responding to, having abruptly abandoned his Fauvist detour.

They were painted before / after Braque saw Picasso’s “Demoiselles” in late 1907 and seem clearly to herald the birth of Cubism? They are precursors (especially the third version) to Braque’s paintings from the more famous 3rd visit to l’Estaque in summer 1908.

Viaduct at L’Estaque, Autumn 1907. FIRST version. Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

(NOT in the 2013 Paris Grand Palais retrospective).

We see hints of the impending Cubist rupture? This was painted by Braque at l’Estaque after (apparently) having seen Cezanne watercolours on show in Paris mid 1907, but before seeing the famous Cezanne retrospective at the 1907 Salon d’Automne?

Viaduct at l’Estaque, early 1908. SECOND version. Musee Arte Moderne, Pompidou. (2013 Paris retrospective).

This painting advances the cause?

Viaduct at L’Estaque, completed early 1908. THIRD version. Private collection.

(NOT in 2013 Paris retrospective).

This surely is one of Braque’s most important early Cubist paintings, painted after his second visit to Estaque and the THIRD version of same view, wherein see clear progression towards Cubism. So it was painted BEFORE the famous summer 1908 painting campaign in same vicinity, ie the pictures which would be rejected by Matisse (none other) leading the jury making selections for the 1908 Salon d’Autumne, which opened start of October and which included a bunch of Matisse paintings! And thus the canny dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler showed them next month at his Paris gallery, now widely considered the first Cubist show.








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