Maya Widmaier Picasso has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Raymond Charpentier, Paris (acquired from the artist)
Frances G. Guth, New York
William Beadleston, New York
Heinz Berggruen, Paris
Private Collection, New York (sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 18, 1983, lot 55)
Private Collection, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Acquired from the above
New York, The New Gallery, Picasso, An American Tribute, 1962, no. 21
New York, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Master Drawings & Watercolors: 1883-1986, 1986, no. 14
The present work depicts Picasso's friend Raymond Charpentier and dates from 1920, a period when the artist's work incorporated the clear, precise and proportioned aesthetic of French neo-Classical painting. This style was a response to a cultural movement promoted by members of post-war French society who were determined to link themselves with the nobility and clarity of the classical age. Interpretations of Picasso’s classicizing style during this period also rely to some extent on significant changes in his life that followed his marriage to the ballerina, Olga Kokholova in 1917. After their marriage, the couple moved into a respectable apartment on the rue de La Boétie and Picasso switched his representation to the Paul Rosenberg Gallery. As the artist began to associate with a more worldly bourgeois set whose conformist tastes reveled in a smoother and more conservative approach to both style and content, seen as a new start following the turmoil of the war, he adopted a classicizing tendency that he somehow balanced with the last flowering of his synthetic cubist style. While this change in style accorded with the cultural mood of the period – that of Cocteau’s Antigone, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Valéry’s Jeune Parque – Picasso’s classicism can in no sense be equated with academicism. Beginning around 1917 and until mid-1920s, Picasso created an impressive production of “neo-classical” works. Even though Picasso’s neo-classical portraits drew clear parallels to traditionalist approaches to draftsmanship, there is something distinctly modern about these drawings. Picasso was fascinated by photography, and incorporated the highly-mannered positioning, selective focus and crisp qualities of photo-portraits into his drawings.
Raymond Charpentier was a composer who collaborated with Sergei Diaghilev on many productions for the Ballets Russes. Picasso met Charpentier while working on the set designs for the ballet, and he dedicated this handsome portrait to him in 1920.
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