The drawing is a study for "Man in the Café", a large painting in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A second drawing of the man's head is in the collection Basil Goulandris, Lausanne. Because of its multiple traces of erasure---an indication of Gris's intensive process of trial and error---the Thaw drawing must have preceded the one in Lausanne, which is dated August 1912 and closely resembles the corresponding section of the painting. The dislocation and fragmentation of the face into geometric planes are typical of Gris's Cubism, which differs from that of Braque and Picasso by placing a greater emphasis on structure. Here Gris's cerebral method is relieved by comical overtones reminiscent of the caricatures he created earlier in his career in order to make a living.
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Man with Opera Hat
Black fabricated chalk on laid paper.
18 3/4 x 12 3/8 inches (478 x 314 mm)
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris; Eugene V. Thaw; Dr. Jaime Constantiner, Mexico City; Eugene V. and Clare Thaw, New York and Santa Fe.