Pierre Dubreuil - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 1, 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

  • Catalogue Essay

    Nothing is left to chance in Pierre Dubreuil’s sophisticated composition of cigarettes, matches, and a cigarette holder artfully arrayed against a chess board. Dubreuil marshals this seemingly chaotic jumble of elements into a well-ordered and cohesive whole, celebrating two gentlemanly pursuits of the 1920s: smoking and chess. Dubreuil, who owned a tobacconist shop in Brussels in the 1920s, not only had a professional interest in smoking accessories but was sensitive as well to their aesthetic potential, and cigarettes, pipes, and even smoke worked their way into some of his most adventurous compositions. In this image, the cigarettes and matches seem to hold the cylinder like a cigar, an illusion enhanced by the pristine cone of ash at the tip. Dubreuil printed this image in the notoriously challenging Rawlins Oil process, of which he was master, carefully maintaining detail in the white cigarettes and rendering them with striking three-dimensionality.

    This print of Douces Amies was shown in Dubreuil’s 1935 exhibition at London’s Royal Photographic Society, as well as in the key posthumous retrospectives of his work. 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 Dubreuil’s oeuvre was destroyed. A print of Douces Amies has never before appeared at auction.


Douces Amies

circa 1929
Oil print.
9 5/8 x 7 3/4 in. (24.4 x 19.7 cm)
Artist’s monogram in the negative; signed, titled in pencil, annotated '31. Best friends' in ink and stamped 'DB69' on the reverse of the mount; titled in pencil on the mount.

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $20,000

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New York Auction 1 October 2019