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In Europe the First World War was followed by a 'return to order' movement. In these years Braque, like many avant-garde artists of his generation, looked to classical models for inspiration. However, although the figure's statuesque proportions, her pose and drapes, recall ancient Greek and Roman prototypes, the painting is executed in a non-classical manner, with loosely undulating, sometimes seemingly tentative, lines and undefined areas of colour. The tension between the work's traditional subject matter and its modern style is heightened by the stark contrasts of the white drapery and green foliage against the black background, which give the work a strange, almost hallucinatory quality.

August 2004