Galerie Malingue, Paris
Acquired from the above in 1979
Rafael Alberto, Picasso en Avignon, Paris, 1971, no. 37, illustrated
Rafael Alberti, The Year of Picasso, Paintings: 1969, New York, 1971, no. 37, illustrated
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, the Sixties III, 1968-1969, San Francisco, 2003, no. 69-548, illustrated p. 286
Hélène Parmelin wrote at length about Picasso’s paintings of 1969, many of which she saw under production at the artist’s studio at Notre-Dame de Vie: “During Picasso’s last years – marked by his Avignon paintings – he often spoke of the obscure direction that his research has taken, a movement closer and closer to reality. The canvas becomes so true that, he says, ‘one can no longer see the difference between it and reality. It is natural’ (op. cit., p. 288). Picasso’s objective to paint ‘nature’ is in direct opposite to the abstraction and minimalism which were becoming the mainstream for other artists during this same period. For Picasso, the musketeer signified the golden age of painting, and allowed him to escape the limitations of contemporary subject matter and explore the spirit of a past age. Here was a character who embodied the courtly mannerisms of the Renaissance gentleman, and Picasso's rendering of this image was also his tribute to the work of two painters he had adored throughout his life - Velazquez and Rembrandt. Picasso had devoted a large portion of his production throughout the 1960s to the reinterpretation of the old masters, an experience in which he reaffirmed his connection to some of the greatest painters in the history of art. The musketeer series was a continuation of this interest and began, according to his wife Jacqueline Roque, "when Picasso started to study Rembrandt," but his appreciation of other great figures of the Renaissance also influenced the appearance of these characters.
Towards the end of his life, the image of the musketeer evoked Picasso’s Spanish heritage and his nostalgia for the youthful vigor of his early years. As Marie-Laure Bernadac observes: “If woman was depicted in all her aspects in Picasso’s art, man always appeared in disguise or in a specific role, painter at work or a musketeer. In 1966, a new and final character emerged in Picasso’s iconography and dominated his last period to the point of becoming its emblem. This was the Golden Age gentleman, a half Spanish, half Dutch musketeer dressed in richly adored clothing complete with ruffs, a cape, boots and a big plumed hat… Picasso seldom depicted himself directly, choosing instead to have thematic characters personify him. For Picasso man was no longer a godlike sculptor at the height of his maturity, nor was he the monstrous Minotaur, symbol of duality; he was a fictitious character, a carnival puppet whose identity and truth lay in masks and signs. Malraux accurately compared these figures to the flat and emblematic personages of the tarot. It was not without humor that Picasso created these characters, whose amorous adventures he chronicled in his etchings. Imagine painting musketeers in 1970! They were ornamental figures whose clothes were a pretext both for the blaze of blood red and golden yellow and for the resurgence of a newly found Spanishness" (Brigitte Léal, Christine Piot and Marie-Laure Bernadac, The Ultimate Picasso, New York, 2000, p. 457-58).
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