Pierre Dubreuil - Photographs New York Thursday, April 4, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Tom Jacobson, Tucson

  • Exhibited

    Pierre Dubreuil Retrospective, Royal Photographic Society, London, 1935
    Pierre Dubreuil, Photographs 1896–1935, Musée d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1987
    Pierre Dubreuil Rediscovered, The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, 1988; and traveling to Alliance Française, New York, 1989; and The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1990

  • Literature

    Jacobson, Pierre Dubreuil: Photographs 1896-1935, pl. 22 (this print)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Few European photographers operated as successfully as Pierre Dubreuil in the two dominant, frequently opposed, styles of the early 20th century, Pictorialism and Modernism. His best photographs synthesize elements of these two photographic modes and combine a Pictorialist emphasis on the craft of photographic printing with a Modernist simplification of form. Rendered here as an oil print – the technically-demanding printing technique of which Dubreuil was a master – and exploiting a lively repetition of forms, Gardiens fidèles is the quintessential Dubreuil photograph.

    This photograph illustrates Dubreuil’s frequently overlooked sense of visual humor. The title translates as ‘faithful guardians,’ and a close examination of the shapes of the individual locks reveals their resemblance to dogs’ faces. In this image, Dubreuil creates a visual pun that likens the locks to watchdogs, both faithful guardians of the home.

    While Dubreuil’s photographs were widely published and exhibited in his day, extant prints are scarce. Fearing for the safety of his work at the outset of World War II, Dubreuil sold his negatives and many of his photographs to the Agfa Gevaert factory in Belgium. When the factory was bombed, nearly all of Dubreuil’s oeuvre was destroyed. The print of Gardiens fidèles offered here is believed to be one of only two extant prints, and is the only one which bears his monogram, indicating that it was intended for exhibition.


Gardiens fidèles

circa 1932
Oil print.
9 3/4 x 7 3/4 in. (24.8 x 19.7 cm)
Signed, titled in pencil, annotated '45. Padlocks' in ink and stamped 'DB69' on the reverse of the mount; titled in pencil on the mount.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $47,500

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New York Auction 4 April 2019