Help me identify this Braque etching
July 15, 2007 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone identify this work of art? I believe it is an etching ("l'eau forte") by Braque, but what and when? It resembles the etchings (example) he did for Hesiod's Theogonie. Sorry for the low-quality cameraphone photo.
posted by beniamino to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
It looks like a figure (woman in dress?) on or by a horse, sor similar.
posted by londongeezer at 1:04 PM on July 15, 2007

It is certainly a woman (a Greek goddess?). The thing by her feet might be a sea creature, and it looks like she has speared the creature in the neck with an arrow or a harpoon (on the right).
posted by beniamino at 1:08 PM on July 15, 2007

It could very likely be Artemis (Diana in Roman Mythology), goddess of the hunt. The arrow seems is already in mid-flight, unstoppable, which could relate to the slaying of Niobe's daughters.

Quoting from Wikipedia:
Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, with the last begging for his life (Apollo would have spared his life, but had already released the arrow), and Artemis killed her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually).
posted by charls at 2:59 PM on July 15, 2007

Um, where did you take this photo? That might help identify it. And are you 100% that it is Braque (as far as answers go I have no clue).
posted by Deathalicious at 4:35 PM on July 15, 2007

charls: Interesting. Yes, it could well be Artemis. And this article (subscription required) says that a 'drawing relating to Artemis' is amongst the Theogonie set.

Deathalicious: It belongs to a relative. It has a note on the back identifying it as Braque.
posted by beniamino at 2:38 AM on July 16, 2007

This is an impression of "Théogonie," from the Vollard suite that preceded the Maeght publication of Theogonie (the catalogue raisonné number is Vallier 20h). Excerpted from the cat. r.:

"At the beginning of the 1930s, Vollard ... suggested to Braque that he illustrate a text for him. Braque's choice was immediate: he had read Hesiod's Theogony "with total admiration..."
... In 1932, 16 etchings were planned in an edition of 50 which were to complement the as yet unprinted text. ... in 1939, at the time of Vollard's death, the printing of the edition remained incomplete. ... The slowness of the printing, and its ultimate incompletion, resulted in the dispersion of Braque's 16 etchings, and few collectors have been able to reconstitute the series in its entirety. But, when it is possible to study the entire series, as it is here, a marked difference in the printing, confirmed by the signature and the presence or absence of a registration number, becomes apparent. Ten etchings, numbered and signed in brown pencil, form a separate group from the six others which are not numbered but are signed in pencil. These ten etchings (b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, m) were the first pulled by Galanis [the printer] and signed, as a group, by Braque. Some of the other six circulated without signatures or numbers. ... The entire series, with the exception of a single etching, bore Braque's remarques [the remarques are the marginalia]. In 1954, when Aimé Maeght took the initiative to publish the Théogonie in book form, it was assumed that almost all of the plates had been cut down by Galanis, so that the work, completed by a few additional etchings and aquatints done for the occasion by Braque and printed by Visat, appeared without the remarques."

Is yours signed or numbered? I suspect you'd have known from the signature that it was Braque without resorting to the note on the back, but perhaps it is framed in such a way that the signature is hidden? If there's no signature, then the info from the cat. r. suggests that what you have is a reproduction rather than an original print.

If, on the other hand, it is original, it's worth making sure that it is framed archivally -- an acidic mat will likely be discoloring the paper, etc.
posted by obliquicity at 2:57 PM on July 16, 2007

Thanks, obliquicity! That is wonderfully comprehensive. I will go and have a look at the catalogue raisonné (which I would not have known to look for). As for originality, I have no idea. It certainly is unsigned (the owner commented that when she bought it in the 50s, signed versions were available for twice the price :-).
posted by beniamino at 3:01 AM on July 18, 2007

On re-reading, I understand that you (the catalogue, really) are saying that no unsigned copies of 20h circulated, and so an unsigned copy can't be original. I guess it must be a reproduction from the 50s.
posted by beniamino at 4:05 AM on July 18, 2007

Well, one of the links upthread says that whoever they are, they're selling an "unsigned proof" -- so I guess if they've got one, there's a chance that yours is an original as well. The catalogue might have chosen only to list the editioned print, leaving out proofs that might have been printed for a variety of reasons.

Certainly, signed prints would have cost more than unsigned ones even if they were both legitimate prints.

To know for sure, you should take the print to an appraiser, but of course that will cost money. Sometimes museums or auction houses will do free authentications, but museums (for which I work) will not, for ethical reasons, discuss value.
posted by obliquicity at 3:13 PM on July 18, 2007

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