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Mark Harden's Artchive Braque, Georges
Harbor in Normandy
[Le Havre and Paris, May-June 1909]
Oil on canvas
37 7/8 x 37 7/8 in. (96.2 x 96.2 cm.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
Romilly 44

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John Golding, "Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914":

"This particular feature..., the solid, almost tangible, treatment of the sky, had been developed first in Cubist painting by Braque as a result of his new ideas about pictorial space. It is particularly noticeable in the Harbor in Normandy, a work painted from memory in the spring of 1909. In the late landscapes of Cezanne the sky is often treated in much the same way - as a complicated system of small, thickly painted facets or planes inextricably fused, and having a quality of weight and material existence. Despite the austerity of his early Cubism, Braque's interpretation of Cezanne was more painterly than that of Picasso, and he was undoubtedly fascinated by the surface quality and the actual technique of Cezanne; there is in the handling of the sky in the Harbor in Normandy, and indeed throughout the whole picture, a much greater emphasis on the richness of the pigment itself than there is in contemporary works by Picasso. The forms of lighthouses and boats, while almost toy-like in their basic simplicity, are developed internally in terms of a large number of planes or facets, and since the sky receives the same treatment, the painting resolves itself into a mass of small, shifting planes, jointed together or hanging behind each other in shallow depth. Out of this, forms emerge, solidify, and then disintegrate again as the spectator turns his attention back from the individual forms to the painting as a whole. In Braque's l'Estaque landscapes of the previous year, the two-dimensional surface of the picture is retained partly by allowing the eye no way of escape beyond the mountains, buildings and trees, and here the same effect is achieved by the concrete treatment of the sky, which is as elaborately and solidly painted as the rest of the canvas, and which is fused with the landscape below by the extension into it of all the main compositional lines...

"Something has already been said, in connection with the landscapes and still lifes of 1908 and early 1909, about the emergence of a new spatial sensation in Braque's work. In the Harbor in Normandy, this had become very marked. The treatment of the sky and of the areas between the various landscape objects, the boats, lighthouses and breakwaters, in terms of the same facets or pictorial units into which the objects themselves are dissolved, has the effect of making space seem as real, as material, one might almost say as 'pictorial' as the solid objects themselves. The whole picture surface is brought to life by the interaction of the angular, shaded planes. Some of these planes seem to recede away from the eye into shallow depth, but this sensation is always counteracted by a succeeding passage which will lead the eye forward again up on to the picture plane. The optical sensation produced is comparable to that of running one's hand over an immensely elaborate, subtly carved sculpture in low relief."