Lot 10
  • 10

Pablo Picasso

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 GBP
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  • Pablo Picasso
  • Tête de jeune homme
  • signed Picasso (lower right); dated 11-12-2-23 on the reverse
  • Conté crayon on paper
  • 63.5 by 47.5cm.
  • 25 by 18 3/4 in.


Estate of the artist (inv. 3289)

Marina Picasso (the artist's granddaughter; by descent from the above)

Acquired from the above by the late owner


Venice, Centro di Cultura di Palazzo Grassi, Picasso, Opere dal 1895 al 1971 dalla Collezione Marina Picasso, 1981, no. 150, illustrated in the catalogue

Munich, Haus der Kunst; Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle; Frankfurt, Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut & Zurich, Kunsthaus, Pablo Picasso, Sammlung Marina Picasso, 1981-82, no. 134, illustrated in the catalogue

Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art & Kyoto, Municipal Museum, Picasso, Masterpieces from Marina Picasso Collection and Museums in U.S.A. and U.S.S.R., 1983, no. 109, illustrated in the catalogue

Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria & Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Picasso, 1984, no. 83, illustrated in the catalogue

Madrid, Fundacion Coleccion Thyssen-Bornemisza, Picasso 1923, Arlequin con espejo y La flauta de Pan, 1995-96, no. 6, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Visage de 3/4 gauche)

Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Picasso and the Mediterranean, 1996-97, no. 64, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Visage de 3/4 gauche)

Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Picasso: The Italian Journey 1917-1924, 1998, no. 174, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Visage de trois quart gauche)

Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz,  Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 1999, no. 130, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection,1999, no. 145, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 178, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Bern, Kunstmuseum, Picasso und die Schweiz, 2001-02, no. 79, illustrated in colour in the catalogue.

Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La Passion du Dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 157, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Vienna, Albertina, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 143, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Munich, Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 179, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Christian Zervos, Dessins de Pablo Picasso 1892-1948, Paris, 1949, no. 86, illustrated p. 59

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1923 à 1925, Paris, 1952, vol. 5, no. 13, illustrated pl. 7

The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. Neoclassicism II, 1922-1924, San Francisco, 1996, no. 23-029, illustrated p. 115

Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso. From the Ballets to Drama (1917-1926), Barcelona, 1999, no. 1318, illustrated in colour p. 361

John Richardson, A Life of Picasso. The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932, New York, 2007, illustrated p. 223


Executed on grey paper, hinged to the mount at the upper corners, floating in the mount. There are remnants of tape from previous mountings at intervals on the reverse of the edges. There are regular shallow horizontal flattened creases due to the sheet having been rolled or folded previously. There are small repaired tears at the top right and top left of the sheet and a flattened crease in the lower right corner (all visible in the catalogue illustration). The medium is fresh and unfaded and overall this work is in good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although the paper has a slightly more cream tonality in the original.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

An intimate rendering of the face of a young man, Tête de jeune homme belongs to a group of drawings and paintings of a young male model, possibly a dancer, that Picasso executed at the end of 1922 and early 1923 (figs. 1 & 3). It is a remarkable example of the artist's creative versatility and exemplifies the Neo-Classical stylisation he favoured over Cubism in the 1920s. His emphasis during these years was on the strength of line and the monumentality of form, and his figures often resembled the classical sculpture that he encountered on trips to Italy and Fontainebleau during those years. When he applied this particular style to more intimate renderings, the results were often stunning. The subtle details of the young man's face are captured here with the most skillful and precise draughtsmanship, resulting in a work of art that is at once distinctly modern and eternally beautiful. As Picasso once said about his own work, 'To me there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was' (quoted in Picasso: The Classical Period (exhibition catalogue), C&M Arts, New York, 2003, p. 21). 


This beautiful drawing is distinctly a product of Picasso's Neo-Classical style that characterised his work in the years following the First World War. The term 'Neo-Classical' refers to the artist's conscious affiliation with the art of the Greek and Roman era and his attempt to incorporate a similar formal precision and clear draughtsmanship into his art. Picasso's focus on the Classical age was a product of rapel à l'ordre, a movement that dominated avant-garde art in France during this time. Its overarching socio-political goal was to cast France as the centre of the new 'golden age' of civilisation. This post-war cultural preoccupation could not have come at a better time for Picasso, who had all but exhausted Cubism by this point and was looking for a new way to challenge himself. Together with Jean Cocteau, Picasso traveled to Italy in 1921 to study the Latinate origins of art in Naples and Pompeii. 


According to John Richardson, one of the objects that had the most profound effect on him was the head of the Antinous from the second century (fig. 2), whose features appear in several of his head studies from the early 1920s. Richardson explains: 'Picasso occasionally gives her idealized classical features a look of Olga, or his American friend Sara Murphy, or his former fiancée Irène Lagut, or conceivably, one of the nannies Olga hired and fired. The same with the men in Picasso's Classical work. Their features are mostly based on those of another of the Farnese marbles, the celebrated Antinous. Once again, Picasso uses this as a base to which he adds glimpses of real people: himself, Gerald Murphy and a professional model – possibly a Diaghilev dancer called Nicolas Zverev – who seems to have posed for the artist while recovering from an injury to his leg. A very fine example of this series is the drawing of a man's head [the present work]. References to the Farnese marbles would recur whenever Picasso's imagery took on a classical tinge' (J. Richardson, ibid., p. 13).  


Throughout his œuvre, Picasso's depictions of male figures are most often invested with autobiographical significance, as Richardson notes. For example, Pipes of Pan, also completed in 1923, is widely regarded as a depiction of the artist's alter-ego, and the present composition offers a similar interpretation. With both of these works and his Neo-Classical compositions in general, 'he established a synthesis between the ancient world and the modern world – a synthesis that celebrates the new Mediterraneanism which he and the Murphys claimed with some justice to have inaugurated' (ibid., p. 20).