LE MAQUEREAU 1944 Pastel on paper 48 x 63 cm Provenance: Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (n°1253) Artcurial sale of 2 June 2015, n°72 Private collection, Paris The theme of fish is familiar to Braque. The artist discovered them for the first time during his Cubist period, between 1909 and 1910: first Bottle and fish (fig.1) and Two Fishes in a Basket (fig.2), then again during the Second World War , Black Fishes (fig.3) and finally our Mackerel. In a deliberately limited repertoire with an economy of lines and strokes, the artist seems to be highlighting the restrictions suffered by the French during the War. The succession of straight lines, curves and counter-curves gives the whole a severe simplicity. Only the blue of the mackerel's box introduces colour into a composition dominated by dark tones. Here, the mackerel, a banal animal, becomes a pretext for simplification: no perspective, a desire to simplify the object in order to bring out its very essence, all of which reinforces the sensation of flatness. Although they are precisely drawn, certain shapes have nonetheless become identifiable: this is the case with the geometric shape on the left of the mackerel, which can be read as a glass or pewter carafe, for example. Although Cubism only lasted a dozen years, it was the major artistic revolution of the early 20th century, the one that paved the way for abstraction and contemporary painting. Notre Maquereau (Our mackerel) is precisely in line with this.