Lot 111
  • 111

Pablo Picasso

120,000 - 180,000 USD
305,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Le Joueur de flûte
  • Bearing the signature Picasso and dated Paris 26 Octobre XXXII. (lower left)
  • Pen and ink, brush and ink and ink wash on paper


Gallerie d'Audrecht, The Hague
E.J. van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam (acquired by 1957)
Private Collection (and sold: Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, October 20, 1977, lot 140A)
Private Collection, Caracas (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection, Geneva
Private Collection, Miami (and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 7, 2003, lot 340)
Acquired at the above sale 


Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 151, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

Executed on October 26, 1932, the day after Picasso’s fifty-first birthday, the present work belongs to a celebrated series of richly worked ink drawings in which the artist depicts himself as a Pan-like piper serenading a sleeping Marie-Thérèse.

The year 1932 was a particularly momentous one for Picasso. It was dominated by the celebrations held to mark his fiftieth birthday which culminated over the summer with the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Picasso’s work, held at the Galeries Georges Petit throughout June and July, and the publication of the first volume of Christian Zervos’ catalogue raisonné, a hugely ambitious project on which he and Zervos had been working for nearly three years. Anxious to affirm his status as the leading modern artist at this crucial time in his career, Picasso painted furiously throughout the winter and early spring in preparation for the exhibition. The resulting pictures were quickly—and rapturously—acknowledged to be some of his finest masterpieces. This “phenomenal succession of some thirty major works,” as John Richardson later hailed them, was unlike anything Picasso had done before. Marie-Thérèse’s presence blossomed forth as the artist described her sweeping curves with a passionate ardor that had been hitherto restrained. Within the space of just a few weeks Picasso had immortalized her voluptuous form with dazzling virtuosity in paintings such as Le RêveJeune fille devant un miroir and the sensual Nu allongé (Jour), in which the supine pose of Picasso’s twenty-two year old muse finds its echo here.

Executed as his anniversary year drew to a close, Le Joueur de flûte thus constitutes a touching epilogue to what became known as Picasso's annus mirabilis. The present work reveals a tenderness and intimacy that is missing from some of the larger, more stylized and erotically charged portrayals of Marie-Thérèse that the artist had done for his retrospective. In a manner that recalls Ingres’ extraordinary Odalisque à l’esclave (see fig. 1), Picasso here worships humbly at her shrine while his muse surrenders to the deepest abandon of sleep. As Elizabeth Cowling has written: “When their ardent affair was at its height Picasso was enthralled by his young lover, and Ingres’ supremely seductive paintings of women, clothed or naked, real or fantasized, were an ideal model because they express, and arouse in the viewer caught in the subtle toils of Ingres’ art, a comparable state of absorption” (Michael FitzGerald & Elizabeth Cowling, Picasso's Marie-Thérèse (exhibition catalogue), Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York, 2008, p. 37).