Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Estate of the artist
Marina Picasso (by descent from the above)
Jan Krugier, Geneva (on consignment from the above)
H. Shickman Gallery, New York (acquired from the above)
Acquired from the above in 1984
Fillette aux nattes et au chapeau vert, an intimate portrait of Picasso's daughter, Paloma, was painted when the little girl was about seven years old and the artist was seventy-four. For Picasso, being a father at such an advanced age had its advantages: By the time Paloma was born in 1949, Picasso was already an established celebrity in the art world and financially secure, and he had more time to devote to fatherhood than he did during earlier phases of his life. Unlike his depictions of his son Paolo from the 1920s or daughter Maya from the 1930s, his many paintings and drawings of Paloma and her older brother, Claude, from the 1950s reveal the ease and familiarity that he shared with his two youngest children. Picasso often presents them playing in the company of their mother, Françoise Gilot, or drawing together in their nursery. For this composition, however, he has focused on little Paloma by herself, her attention devoted explicitly to her father as he draws her picture.
Paloma's portrait is one of the few that Picasso completed of his daughter in 1956, when his attention was primarily focussed on images inspired by his new romantic companion, Jacqueline Roque. From the inscription on the reverse, however, we know that Picasso must have completed at least three versions of his daughter around this time. Paloma's presence in Picasso's life increasingly diminished as the artist grew closer and more dependent upon Jacqueline. Additionally, with the publication of her mother's memoirs in later years, Picasso's relationship with his children by Françoise Gilot became particularly strained. In 1956, however, Paloma was welcomed at the house of her father, although she had to share her time with his new companion who would eventually become her step-mother. The fact that she was the subject of her father's artistic attention in the present work must have been reassuring to the little girl.
Still, Picasso's picture of Paloma here had larger implications for the artist and his future production. The canvas dates from 1956, the year before Picasso would commence his life-long-anticipated investigation of Diego Velazquez's Las Meninas. When comparing the present work with the renderings of the Infanta Margarita that Picasso completed only a few months later, we can see that the legendary 17th century Spanish court was not far from his mind. Perhaps it was his focus on Paloma's image here that brought about the creative encouragement he needed to forge forward with his more ambitious undertaking the following year.
Providing us with his remembrance of Paloma's visits with her father is David Douglas Duncan, whose insight gives us yet another portrait of the girl who would one day become a creative force herself: "Paloma was different. No other child who came to La Californie radiated the same independence of character, or simmering, yet remote feeling of being already in command of her own destiny. She sat drawing beside her father as an equal while he gouged linoleum posters for a Vallauris festival. Often she stood quietly at his side, arm on his shoulder, while he was drawing his private visions -- and she would also be lost in her future dreams while comfortably hidden behind his masks. She had found herself: she was eight" (D. D. Duncan, Picasso and Jacqueline, New York, 1988, p. 134).
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