Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Private Collection, New York (acquired circa 1975)
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, The Sixties I, 1960-1963, San Francisco, 2002, no. 63-166, illustrated p. 382
The present composition was created two years after the couple was married and reveals the steady and powerful force she had become in the artist’s life. Picasso completed this picture at the end of May at the home he shared with Jacqueline in Mougins, known as Notre-Dame-de-Vie. According to the photographer Edward Quinn, whose photographs document Picasso's studio work in the early 1960s at Notre-Dame-de-Vie, Jacqueline was the driving force behind Picasso's ceaseless production: "His close friends agree that Jacqueline's presence and attention were mainly responsible for Picasso's having remained so active until his death. His outlook on life and his enthusiasm for work helped him defy old age and stay young in mind, and even in body. He liked to be with younger people, and his 'eternal youth' coupled with Jacqueline's adaptability, made the great difference between their ages unimportant" (E. Quinn & P. Daix, The Private Picasso, New York, 1987, p. 291).
Throughout their life together, Jacqueline served as a model for several of Picasso's reinterpretations of art historical masterworks, including his studies of Manet's Déjeuner sur l'herbe and Delacroix' Femmes d'Algiers. But here, the artist has chosen to paint her not in any narrative context, but rather as the singular object and focus of his attention. For the present painting, Picasso has preserved Jacqueline's facial features, but he has taken great liberties with the rendering of her body, the contours of which he outlines with a deep green line and embellishes with thick, swirling layers of white paint. In the catalogue for The Mediterranean Years exhibition, John Richardson described Picasso's depictions of Jacqueline at the beginning of their relationship: "The brilliant series of portraits that record Jacqueline's triumphant rise as Picasso's maîtresse-en-titre reveal not only the splendors but also the miseries of her new role. Picasso and Jacqueline were more or less the same height (5 feet 4 inches), and they could easily be mistaken for father and daughter in that they both had strikingly larger features, notably very large eyes. Picasso used his Andalusian mirada fuerte (strong gaze) to undress, seduce, amuse, terrify, or devour whomever he was out to get. In his portraits of Jacqueline, Picasso often gave her his eyes -- enormously magnified, but nonetheless submissive; infinitely loving, but sometimes sick or scared. Similarly, just as he had ameliorated Jacqueline's appearance in some of his earlier portraits by giving her the long neck she lacked, he was no less capable of doing the reverse. By adjusting her image, he could humiliate or test Jacqueline, indicate love or anger or desire, and even, on occasion, predict or ordain a bout of illness" (J. Richardson, Picasso, The Mediterranean Years, op. cit., pp. 29-33).
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