Lot 105
  • 105

Pablo Picasso

3,000,000 - 4,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso

  • Signed Picasso (upper left); dated 21/24.6.59 III on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas
  • 57 ½ by 44 ¾ in
  • 146 by 114 cm


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Saidenberg Gallery, New York
Norman Granz, New York (sold: Sotheby’s, London, April 23, 1968, lot 39)
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Acquired from the above in January 1969


Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art; Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art; Nagoya, Prefectural Museum of Art, Pablo Picasso, 1964, no. 135
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Pablo Picasso: Werke 1932-1965, 1967, no. 38
Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Picasso: das spätwerk, malerei und zeichnung seit 1944, 1968, no. 36
Zürich, Kunsthaus, Verein Zürcher Kunstfreunde, 1971, no. 24 (as dating from 1956)
Basel, Kunstmuseum, Picasso: Aus dem Museum of Modern Art New York und Schweizer Sammlungen, 1976, no. 82
London, Tate Gallery, Picasso: Sculptor/Painter, 1994, no. 150


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1958 à 1959, vol. 18, Paris, 1967, no. 488, illustrated pl. 145
Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso: The Heroic Years, Lucerne and Frankfurt, 1971, no. 253, illustrated p. 154
"Picasso, Der Mann, den die Frauen liebten," Der Stern, Cologne, October 22, 1981, p. 40
Andrew Graham-Dixon, Paper Museum, New York, 1996, p. 90
Carsten-Peter Warncke, Pablo Picasso.1881-1973, Cologne, 1992, vol. II, illustrated p. 552 (titled Femme nue accroupie)
The Picasso Project, Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, The Fifties II, 1956-1959, San Francisco, 2000, no. 59-183, illustrated p. 331

Catalogue Note

Seated on the ground with legs spread wide apart, the female figure in Nu accroupi has many ancestors in Picasso’s oeuvre. In Femme assise painted on March 5, 1940 (Zervos, vol. 10, no. 302; see fig. 1), the stress of the war is readily apparent in the distorted limbs and anguished gestures of the figure.  A later treatment of the same theme – Femme assise, painted on July 9, 1953 (Zervos, vol. 15, no. 292, see fig. 2) – is a splendid exercise in the faceted analysis of form that evolved from Cubism. By the time Picasso came to paint the present work, the nude had become one of his dominant themes.

As Klaus Gallwitz has observed: “Many factors coincide to precipitate the painter-model theme. Similarly, the female nudes, and later the portraits of the painter, again and again received new impulse from the great erotic tension between painter and model.  In the mid-1950’s everything interacted: the studio picture contributed the painter-model formulations, just as it prepared the way for the Women of Algiers cycle. The latter, along with the paraphrases of the Déjeuner sur l’Herbe and Rembrandt’s Bathsheba, helped the nude to establish itself as an independent theme before it was absorbed into the context of painter and model…All the pictures devoted to the nude have one thing in common: The body is usually seen directly from above and is brought as far as possible into a foreground plane...  After the Demoiselles d’Avignon, the great archaic women at the well, and the surrealist monsters on the beach, Picasso called to life another race of giantesses. These Cyclopean nudes are shown lying, crouching and sitting, but never standing. Despite their tremendous bulk and the oppressively close view, their massive calm gives their bodily presence a certain unapproachability. In the 1960’s Picasso began to dissolve the solid cubism of these figures in a painterly calligraphy” (Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso The Heroic Years, New York, 1985, p. 152).


Sculpture waxed and waned in importance throughout Picasso’s career. In the present work, the seated woman is presented as a compact cubic block and it has been suggested by John Golding and Elizabeth Cowling that Picasso may have intended to comment on Maillol’s celebrated neo-classical sculpture, The Mediterranean, 1905. They also remark that there is a relationship with Picasso’s sheet-metal sculptures of the early 1960s, such as Femme au chapeau, 1961-63 (see fig. 3), especially in the paradoxical treatment of mass and depth (see Elizabeth Cowling and John Golding, Picasso: Sculptor/Painter (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1994, p. 285). It was also during this period that Picasso was contemplating a sculptural ensemble of naked figures seated outdoors, a project deriving from his longstanding fascination with Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe that was not to be accomplished until 1962 when he collaborated with Carl Nesjar on the group of sandblasted concrete sculptures for the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.


Fig. 1, Pablo Picasso, Femme assise, Royan, June 1940, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Fig. 2,  Pablo Picasso, Femme nue accroupie, Vallauris, July 9, 1953, oil on canvas, Saint Louis (MO), The Saint Louis Art Museum

Fig. 3,  Pablo Picasso, Femme au chapeau, 1961-63, painted sheet iron, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen