Lot 48
  • 48

Pablo Picasso

3,000,000 - 5,000,000 USD
4,338,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Mousquetaire au chapeau.  Buste.
  • Signed Picasso (upper left); dated 11/5/67 on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Joseph H. Hirshhorn, New York and Washington, DC (acquired from the above in 1970)

Estate of Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1981)
Acquired from the above in 1986 and deaccessioned in 2005


Washington, DC., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Smithsonian Institution, Selections from the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1986, no. 74


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso. Ouvres de 1965-1967, Paris, 1973, vol. XXV, no. 362, illustrated pl. 157

The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Sixties II, 1967, San Francisco, 2003, no. 67-186, illustrated p. 335

Catalogue Note

The character of the dashing musketeer recurred in many important canvases that Picasso completed at end of his life.  This intimate depiction of the handsomely-barbed gentleman, painted in 1967, is one of the first incarnations of the figure.  Rendered with the subdued tonality characteristic of seventeenth century Dutch portraits, the image is essentially an alter-ego of Picasso, the aging painter whose virility and stature would persevere through his art.


The iconography of the musketeer was indicative of Picasso's self-awareness in the years before his death. Gone from his paintings were the veiled references to the artist as victorious gladiator or centaur;  Picasso's autobiographical narrative now needed a more mature and seasoned protagonist to symbolize his own fleeting virility.  The vainglorious musketeer was a more appropriate character, offering a spectrum of interpretations that occupied the artist during his final years.   His work on this theme began in the mid-1960s with a series of engravings and works on paper that explored this figure, and, later, a variety of canvases of the musketeer, festooned in colorful regalia and brandishing a symbol of his virility - a pipe, instrument, weapon or paintbrush.


The musketeer allowed Picasso to escape the limitations of contemporary subject matter and explore the spirit of a past age. The figure evoked the courtly mannerisms of the Renaissance gentleman and evolved a golden age of painting, reflecting the influence of Velazquez and Rembrandt on Picasso's art. Picasso had devoted a large portion of his time throughout the 1960s to the reinterpretation of the old masters, an experience in which he reaffirmed his connection to the canon of art history. The musketeer series was a continuation of this interest and began, according to his wife Jacqueline Roque, 'when Picasso started to study Rembrandt.'  His appreciation of other great figures of the Renaissance, including Shakespeare, also influenced the appearance of these characters.

The genesis of the musketeers can be attributed to Picasso’s period of convalescence after surgery in the fall of 1965.  It was during that time he reportedly read the works of William Shakespeare, whose chivalrous characters made a lasting impression.  Picasso also spent his recovery period studying the works of Rembrandt featured in illustrated books. According to John Richardson, Rembrandt was “Picasso’s all-powerful God-the-father – a surrogate for his real father, Don José Ruiz, the anything but powerful art teacher and painter of pigeons…. Whether or not he had actually seen The Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum, Picasso had slides of it projected onto his studio walls, thus enabling Rembrandt’s militia men to enter into another artist’s imagination” (J. Richardson, in Mosqueteros, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2009, p. 19).