Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Brook Street Gallery, London (1965)
Sale: Christie's, New York, May 11, 1988, lot 66
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1965 à 1967, vol. 25, Paris, 1973, no. 189, illustrated pl. 98 (illustrated without the signature)
The Picasso Project, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Sixties II, 1964-1967, San Francisco, 2002, no. 65-192, illustrated p. 227
Picasso's images of mothers and children were a popular subject in his mid-career, reflecting his own role as a father and the importance of his young children. These representations, however, were rare in his late paintings, and the present work is a notable example. In the exhibition catalogue for Picasso's World of Children, Werner Spies wrote about the significance of these pictures: “The enclosed garden of the artist’s thoughts and feelings about children, which oscillate between shy reticence and a touching concern with the fragility of young bodies and the awkwardness of children’s gestures. Perhaps no greater contract can be found in Picasso’s oeuvre than that between the sense of imminent demise conveyed by the late works and the expression of burgeoning life evoked by his pictures of children” (W. Spies, Picasso’s World of Children, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1995, p. 9).
Between October 25th and 28th, Picasso painted seven compositions of a mother holding a child. The present work is the largest of the seven paintings, but shares with them a similar arrangement: the mother holds the child up towards her shoulder on her own right side, her head turned in profile towards her baby, with her long dark curls spilling down towards the upper left side of the canvas. In the present work, the faces of the mother and child are placed closer to one another than in the other works, in fact, the mother’s nose overlaps the left side of the baby, and the two figures hands are almost intertwined. For an artist who is often thought of as painting with a certain ferocity, who subjects his models to violent distortions and dislocations, these paintings introduce an unexpected note of tenderness and quiet.
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