Lot 1
  • 1

Man Ray

200,000 - 300,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Man Ray
  • Picasso
  • Signed Man Ray, dedicated √† Picasso, and dated XIXXXXVI (lower right)
  • Pen and ink on paper
  • 13 3/4 by 9 7/8 inches
  • 35 by 24.8 cm


Gallery Mayer, New York

Acquired from the above in December 1959


New York, Valentine Gallery, Drawings by Man Ray, 1936, no. 22

Paris, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Les Dessins de Man Ray, 1937

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Man Ray, 1966, p. 38, illustrated

New York, Gallery Mayer, Man Ray Drawings, 1959


Man Ray & Paul Eluard, Les Mains Libres, Paris, 1937, illustrated p. 185

Sarane Alexandrian, Man Ray, Paris & Berlin, 1973, illustrated p. 17

Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray, The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, fig. 73, illustrated p. 89

Janus, Man Ray, Tutti gli scritti, Milan, 1981,  illustrated p. 163

Man Ray in America (exhibition catalogue), The Maggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, 1989, illustrated p. 42


Very good condition. Pen and ink on paper. The sheet is hinged at the top corners to the mat. There is a small tear at the bottom edge, center. The sheet is only slightly time-stained, with darkening around the extreme edges. There is a very small, shallow crease at upper-left corner, and thin, horizontal hairlines of staining along the top center edge.Overall, the the work is in beautiful condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Man Ray's revealing portrait of Picasso, partially masked by an unidentified crouching nude, was executed in 1936 and is arguably one of the artist's finest portrait drawings along with his memorable portraits of Andr√© Breton, Paul Eluard, and his imaginary portrait of the Marquis de Sade.

By the mid-1930s, Man Ray had lost much of his interest in commercial photography, dominated by fashion and commissioned portraiture, and returned to creating some of his finest Surrealist works. In Paris and the South of France in 1936-37, Man Ray completed a series of drawings, sixty-five of which would be published in Les Mains Libres, Paris in 1937. In true Surrealist fashion, the book was conceived to reproduce Man Ray's drawings which were, in turn, 'illustrated' by poems that Paul Eluard composed to accompany the drawings. The present portrait of Picasso is not illustrated by a poem but is featured in a chapter on portraits of the above named pillars of Surrealism. Interestingly, Man Ray dates the portrait XIXXXXVI which is a tribute to Picasso, who often dated his works with Roman numerals in the 1930s. Here, Man Ray plays with the presentation of the date in Roman numerals XIX (19) + XXXVI (36).

Man Ray first met Picasso in 1922, shortly after his arrival in Paris from New York. One of his first commissions was to photograph some of Picasso's latest works and, at that time, Man Ray photographed Picasso and his wife Olga with their son Paolo. By 1936, Picasso had commenced a new relationship with Dora Maar, with whom he would spend the three summers leading up to the Second War in Mougins in the South of France, together with his friends including, Eluard, Man Ray, Roland Penrose, Lee Miller and Breton to name but a few. In his autobiography, Man Ray provided the following description of Picasso, which can be detected in this wonderfully perceptive drawing:  "Picasso gave me the impression of a man who was aware of all that was going on about him and in the world in general, a man who reacted violently to all impacts, but had only one outlet to express his feelings: painting.  His short epigrammatic or enigmatic phrases which he let drop from time to time only emphasized his impatience with any other form of expression" (M. Ray, Self Portrait, London and Boston, 1988, p. 177).