History And Context
The monumental Lemons and Napkin Ring was the third horizontal canvas and the fifth painting by Braque that Phillips bought for the museum. Soon after its purchase, the painting was the featured work in the installation A Survey of Modern Painting, presented in the Main Gallery from September 27, 1931, to January 1932. In the accompanying brochure, Phillips described Braque’s work as “mural in character . . . decoration on a grand scale as the Egyptian sculptors and painters understood it. . . . Lemons and Napkin Ring is somehow monumental. Before its acquisition by The Phillips Collection, Lemons and Napkin Ring had a distinguished history, linked to a Parisian residential setting and three other important canvases by Braque known as the Rosenberg Quartet. The four paintings served as models for decorative marble floor panels in the dining room of the artist’s dealer Paul Rosenberg’s Paris apartment.