Albert Gleizes

Portrait of Jacques Nayral


Not on display

Albert Gleizes 1881–1953
Original title
Portrait de Jacques Nayral
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1619 × 1140 mm
frame: 1886 × 1404 × 57 mm
Purchased 1979

Display caption

Nayral was a modernist publisher who shared Gleizes’s fascination with the theories of Henri Bergson. The interweaving of the sitter and the setting in this portrait reflect Bergson’s ideas about the simultaneity of experience. It was works such as this, which was widely exhibited at the avant-garde Salons, that fed the public outcry against Cubism. Its scale echoes the large-scale paintings of the official exhibitions, while its style subverts that tradition.

Gallery label, June 2010

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Catalogue entry

T02410 PORTRAIT DE JACQUES NAYRAL (Portrait of Jacques Nayral) 1911

Inscribed ‘Albert Gleizes. 1911’ b.r.
Oil on canvas, 63 3/4 × 44 7/8 (162 × 114)
Purchased at Sotheby's (Grant-in-Aid) 1979
Prov: Joseph Houot (Jacques Nayral); Mme Joseph Houot; Commandant Georges Houot, La Flèche; sold by Mme Georges Houot at Sotheby's, London, 5 December 1979, lot 92 repr. in colour
Exh: Salon d'Automne, Paris, October–November 1911 (609); Salon de ‘La Section d'Or’, Galerie La Boëtie, Paris, October 1912 (38); Les Maîtres de l'Art Indépendant 1895–1937, Petit Palais, Paris, June–October 1937 (Room 28, 17); Le Cubisme (1907–1914), Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, January–April 1953 (64); II Bienal, São Paulo, December 1953–February 1954 (Cubist room 16); Albert Gleizes 1881–1953, Guggenheim Museum, New York, September–November 1964 (11, repr.); Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, December 1964–January 1965 (11, repr.); Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, March–April 1965 (11, repr.)
Lit: Guillaume Apollinaire in L'Intransigeant, 12 October 1911; Albert Gleizes, ‘L'Epopée’ in Le Rouge et le Noir, October 1929, p.64
Repr: Joan A. Speers (ed.), Art at Auction: The Year at Sotheby Parke Bernet 1979–80, 1980, p.114 in colour; Tate Gallery 1978–80, p.50 in colour

Jacques Nayral (a pseudonym for Joseph Houot) was a young poet and dramatist who was a friend of Gleizes and married his sister Mireille in 1912. Gleizes began work on his portrait in 1910 (the 1964–5 exhibition included a preliminary drawing signed and dated 1910, with an inscription that it was the second of the studies for this work). Nayral, who was a supporter of the social ideas of the Abbaye de Créteil, was editor-in-chief of the publishing house of Figuière. He was directly responsible for the publication of the book Du Cubisme by Gleizes and Metzinger, as well as Apollinaire's Peintres Cubistes, and for the project to publish a series Tous les Arts. The portrait shows him seated out of doors, in the garden of Gleizes's house at Courbevoie.

Reviewing the Cubist room at the Salon d'Automne of 1911 in L'Intransigeant, Apollinaire wrote of this portrait: ‘It is a very good likeness, yet in this impressive canvas, there is not one form or colour that was not invented by the artist. This portrait has a grandiose appearance that should not escape the notice of connoisseurs.’

Nayral was killed in action in December 1914, at the age of thirty-five, in an attack on a German trench near Arras.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981

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