Lot 18
  • 18

Pablo Picasso

700,000 - 900,000 GBP
725,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • L’Etreinte forcée 
  • signed P.R. Picasso (lower left)
  • pastel on board
  • 47.3 by 38.2cm.
  • 18 5/8 by 15in.


Kunstsalon Abels, Cologne

E. & A. Silberman Galleries, New York

Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above in 1966)

Frank Heller, Beverly Hills (acquired from the above in 1973)

Dr Maria Naiman (acquired in 1974)

Galerie Cazeau-Beraudière, Paris (acquired by 2001)

Private Collection, London

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009


Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Picasso, 1967, no. 2, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Frenzy)

Winterthur, Kunstmuseum; Basel, Galerie Beyeler & Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Picasso. 90 Zeichnungen und farbige Arbeiten, 1971-72, no. 1, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Frenzy)

Cologne, Käthe Kollwitz Museum, 'Paris bezauberte mich...' - Käthe Kollwitz und die französische Moderne, 2010-11, no. 85, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Pierre Daix & Georges Boudaille, Picasso, The Blue & Rose Periods. A Catalogue of the Paintings 1900-1906, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1966, no. A.3, p. 341

Giorgio di San Lazzaro (ed.), ‘Hommage à Picasso’, in XXe Siècle, numéro spécial, 1971, illustrated in colour p. 9 (titled Frenzy)

Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso Vivo (1881-1907), Barcelona, 1980, no. 500, illustrated in colour p. 207 (titled Abrazo bestial)

Carsten-Peter Warncke & Ingo F. Walther (eds.), Pablo Picasso, Cologne, 1991, vol. I, illustrated in colour p. 61 (titled Frenzy)

John Richardson, A Life of Picasso (1881-1906), London, 1991, vol. I, illustrated p. 169 (titled Frenzy and with incorrect medium)

Anatoly Podoksik, Pablo Picasso, The Creative Eye (from 1881 to 1914), Bournemouth, 1996, illustrated p. 22

Carsten-Peter Warncke, Pablo Picasso, Cologne, 1997, vol. I, illustrated in colour p. 61

Javier Herrera, Picasso, Madrid y el 98: La revista ‘Arte Joven’, Madrid, 1997, p. 180

The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. Turn of the Century, 1900-1901, San Francisco, 2010, no. 1900-237, illustrated p. 66 (with incorrect medium)

Catalogue Note

In the autumn of 1900 a young Picasso made his first trip to Paris. At this point in his life, he was working as an artist and illustrator in Madrid, but like many artists of his generation he was drawn to Paris as the centre of the artistic world. Arriving there in September with his friend Carlos Casagemas, he stayed for three months during which time he visited the Louvre and made the rounds of the commercial galleries including Durand-Ruel, Bernheim-Jeune and Ambroise Vollard. Inspired by the sights and experiences of this new environment, Picasso filled pages of notebooks with sketches of the people he saw around him, revealing an innate ability for capturing detail and character.

One of the things that struck him on his arrival in the French capital was the sight of couples embracing freely in the street and during his stay he made a number of drawings on the subject as well as producing fully worked pastels showing couples both in the street and in the relative privacy of an attic bedroom. He may have had Edvard Munch’s depictions of the same subject (fig. 3) in mind, and he certainly succeeds in capturing the same fervour both in the disposition of the figures and his remarkable handling of the medium. This expressive quality is particularly pronounced in L’Etreinte forcée where the embrace is exaggerated by the twisting forms of the couple and the juxtaposition of the luminous brightness of the woman’s clothing against the darker form of the man.

Palau i Fabre sees these works as embodying the energy and intensity that would remain central to Picasso’s œuvre: ‘The violence of these embraces, of which I am acquainted with five or six versions, is the first thing that surprises us. It is this violence that is to dictate his style to Picasso. In the charcoal sketched the decisiveness of the line endeavours to echo that of the theme. With this fury the line accentuates the fury of the lovers […]. We are at the very centre of Picasso’s fundamental attitude, the attitude we will find in him until his death […]. Those vertical lines going from top to bottom of the characters in the pastel [fig. 1 and the present work], those decided brushstrokes in the embraces of the lovers in the garret make us forget Degas. Picasso does not wish to be descriptive, he wishes to participate in the description’ (J. Palau i Fabre, op. cit., p. 207).