Constant Permeke

(1886-1952)

Woman cutting the bread

1927
Oil and charcoal on canavs
175 x 145 cm (68⁷/₈ x 57¹/₈ inches)
Signed lwer right: Permeke
Dated and titled on reverse: BROODSNYDSTER / 27

Signed lower right: Permeke

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Literature
- Langui, E., Constant Permeke (Antwerpen: De Sikkel, 1947), 15 (ill. cover). 
- Langui, E., Tekeningen van Constant Permeke, exh. cat. (Brussel: Ed. de la Connaissance, 1953), cat. no. 13 (ill.).
Vlaamse expressionisten: Permeke, Van den Berghe, De Smet, exh. cat. (Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum, 1954), no. 15. 
- Van Beselaere, W., Constant Permeke Retrospectieve tentoonstelling, exh. cat. (Antwerpen: KMSKA, 1959), 53, 112, cat. no. 75, ill. 59. 
- Turkry, R., Brood in de hedendaagse schilderkunst (Brussel: Koninklijk Landsbond der Belgische Brood-banketbakkersbazen, 1966), 13-14, 33, 39 (ill.). 
- Hoozee, R., W. Van den Bussche, P. Boyens e.a., Expressions Flamandes 1900-1930, exh. cat. (Villeneuve d'Ascq: Musée d'Art Moderne, 1988), 115, 124 (ill.). 
- De Puydt, R.-M., "Van Ensor tot Delvaux of Van Permeke tot Magritte," in: Vlaanderen, jrg. 46 (1997), fig. 1 (ill.). 
- Van de Bussche, W., Van Ensor tot Delvaux, exh. cat. (Oostende/Jabbeke: MMK/PMMK, 1997), 223, 249 (ill.).
- Pauwels, P.J.H., Als een fonkelenden spiegel (Sint-Martens-Latem: Galerie Oscar De Vos, 2019), 236-237 (ill.).
Exhibitions
- Prague, Permeke, cat.no. 42.
- Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne, cat.no. 31.
- 1952, Venice, XXVIe Exposition Biennale Internationale des Beaux-Arts.
- 1953, Cologne, Tekeningen van Constant Permeke, Belgisches Haus Köln/ Ministerie van Openbaar Onderwijs België. 
- 1954, Eindhoven, Van Abbemuseum, Vlaamse expressionisten: Permeke, Van den Berghe, De Smet, 11.12.1954-16.01.1955, cat.no. 15. 
- 1959, Antwerp, KMSKA, Constant Permeke, 28.06-31.08.1959, cat.no. 75. 
- 1988, Villeneuve d'Ascq, Musée d'Art Moderne, Expressions Flamandes 1900-1930, 23.04-12.06.1988. 
- 1989, Oslo, Kunstnernes Hus, Constant Permeke, 1989, cat.no. 26. - 1996, Ostend, PMMK, Van Ensor tot Permeke, 1996-1997, cat. pag. 249.
 
Details of exhibitions year unknown:
- Museo Nacional de Artes Plasticas-Departamento de Estampas y Dibujos. 
- Yugoslavia.
- Japan, cat.no. 52.
- Zuidhoven/Zuidlaren.
Provenance
- Collection Constant Permeke, Jabbeke.
- Collection Th. Baumgold, Antwerp.
- Collection Willy D'Huysser, Brussels.
Description
Constant Permeke considered his “Woman cutting the bread” (De broodsnijdster, 1927) as one of his most loved paintings and refused to part with it. Three years after Permeke passed away, in 1952, his children renounced one of his most famous masterpieces. An Antwerp diamond merchant became the new owner, who shortly after emigrated to the United States. Museum directors and official instances lost track of "Woman cutting the bread".
In 1987 the painting came into the hands of a Belgian collector. After being privately owned for over 30 years – and prior to that being in the US for over 30 years – today, Permeke's exceptional canvas is available on the art market again.

In silent simplicity, Permeke brought a table still life and he depicted the subject as he saw and experienced it. Peasant types and archetypes, monumental, frontal, with impersonal facial features. He distorted to the essence. The representation is determined only by its subjective interpretation. The display of the background has become redundant.

Permeke clearly set up himself as a master draftsman. He did no longer see colour and form but reached the soul through the poverty of the - outwardly human - appearance. “Woman cutting the bread” is counted among his most successful creations in this mixed technique on canvas. The artist offered a striking work through the intimate fusion of red-brown paintings and sepia charcoal sketches drawn briefly on the raw linen. The figure monumental dominates the entire plane, on the one hand drawn delicately with sober lines and on the other hand painted over with broad, fleeting brushstrokes, very nuanced in the same colour tones. The canvas radiates austerity with the black peasant woman as the center, and the still life of the breakfast table around her.

Around 1927, Permeke painted a series of monumental works such as “Vespertijd” (1927, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp), “Motherhood” (1928, Museum of Fine Arts, Ostend) and “Woman cutting the bread” (1927). These works are drawn in charcoal and painted with thinned oil and sepia, in contrast to his usually pasty paint treatment. The mixed technique creates a transparency that facilitates the expression of the data. The simplicity of the drawing lines do not require colour fills.
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