167
167

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Pablo Picasso
TÊTE DE FEMME
Estimate
300,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 490,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
167

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Pablo Picasso
TÊTE DE FEMME
Estimate
300,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 490,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
TÊTE DE FEMME

Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Provenance

Gertrude & Leo Stein, Paris (acquired directly from the artist in 1907)
Alice B. Toklas, Paris (by descent from the above)
Georges & Edna Seligmann, New York (acquired from the above circa 1946-47)
Sale: Champin-Lombrail-Gauthier, Enghien, November 19, 1988, lot 45
Sale: Christie's, New York, November 12, 1992, lot 142
Acquired at the above sale

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie H. Odermatt-Ph. Cazeau, Maitres des XIXe et XXe Siècles, 1989, no. 30, illustrated in reverse in the catalogue

Literature

Hélè Seckel, ed., Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (exhibition catalogue), vol. I, Paris, Musée Picasso, 1988, Carnet 10 Sheet 3, illustrated n.p.
The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde (exhibition catalogue), San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Paris, Musée National-Grand Palais & New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011-12, no. 364, p. 445
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, The African Period, 1907-1909, San Francisco, 2014, no. 1907-733, illustrated p. 199

Catalogue Note

Tête de femme is one of at least ten closely related drawings that the artist completed in June and July of 1907, almost immediately after completing his landmark composition, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. According to Daix and Rosselet, this remarkable drawing is believed to be the third in a series of articulations of a female head from a sketchbook which includes direct studies for Nu à la draperie, now at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. This sketchbook, known as Carnet 10, was acquired in 1907 by Gertrude and Leo Stein—a brother and sister from Pittsburgh who settled in Paris and were amongst the earliest and most prominent of Picasso’s patrons. Photographs of their salon show that the sketchbook was soon dismantled with each of the drawings individually framed and mounted for display.

Picasso used drawing throughout his career in order to experiment with different artistic problems: how to show volume, mass and weight; how to convey movement through gesture; how to establish monumentality and scale. The preliminary drawings that he executed during this summer of outstanding productivity not only demonstrate the various stages and processes that led to the final compositions of the chef-d’oeuvres from this period, but also constitute a vital body of experimental work that ultimately resulted in the invention of Cubism. Almost all of these studies, the present work included, deal with the theme of the female nude—a subject of which Picasso never tired. Picasso’s attention here is on the figure’s face, particularly on the angularity and dimensions of the nose which is rendered with a network of cross-hatching.

This period for Picasso was marked by an enthusiastic reaction to the African tribal sculptures that began to flood the museums and private collections in Paris after the turn of the twentieth century. These objects encouraged an entire generation of artists in Paris to expand the boundaries of representation. Artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Henri Matisse and Andre Derain invoked the forms of tribal sculpture as they sought out a new visual language. The dramatic simplification of form and shamanistic presence of these works appealed to Picasso and his own reaction to these works was particularly resonant in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and related studies such as the present work.

Years after he completed the present work, Picasso told Françoise Gilot about his appreciation for African art and its impact on his pictures, “When I became interested in negro art….it was because at the time I was against what was called beauty in museums….men had made those masks for a sacred purpose, a magic purpose, as a kind of mediation between themselves and the unknown hostile forces that surrounded them, in order to overcome their fear and horror by giving it a form and an image.  At that moment, I realized that this was what painting was all about.  Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing power by giving form to our terrors as well as to our desires” (quoted in Pierre Daix, Picasso, Life and Art, New York, 1993, p. 75).

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York