- Pablo Picasso
- Buste de femme
- signed Picasso (lower right); dated 22.2.65.I on the reverse
- oil on canvas
- 65 by 54cm.
- 25 5/8 by 21 1/4 in.
Waddington Galleries, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1972
The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Sixties II, 1964-1967, San Francisco, 2002, no. 65-043, illustrated p. 155
In the 1950s Jacqueline served as a model for several of Picasso's reinterpretations of art historical masterworks, including his studies of Manet's Déjeuner sur l'herbe and Delacroix's Femmes d'Algers, but from the early 1960s Picasso was increasingly interested in making her the singular focus of his attention. He experimented ceaselessly with different modes of representing her; she is depicted as one half of a kissing couple or an artist and model, and as the sole subject of paintings. In some of these works she is shown as a reclining nude (fig. 1) and in others Picasso focuses on her upper torso and face; she is captured in profile, facing out at the viewer, in languid repose or with her body dramatically foreshortened. These endless variations are matched by Picasso’s technical virtuosity – sometimes her features are abstracted to a handful of lines and at other times – as in the present work – she is rendered with a deliberately unstudied naturalism.
In many of these works Jacqueline is not named as the subject, although she is immediately recognisable from her raven-black hair and striking features. Instead she becomes part of the dialogue between artist and muse that is a particular feature of Picasso’s later work. As Marie-Laure Bernadac explains: ‘it is characteristic of Picasso, in contrast to Matisse and many other twentieth-century painters, that he takes as his model – or as his Muse – the woman he loves and who lives with him, not a professional model. So what his paintings show is never a ‘model’ of a woman, but woman as model. This has its consequences for his emotional as well as artistic life: for the beloved woman stands for ‘painting’, and the painted woman is the beloved: detachment is an impossibility. Picasso never paints from life: Jacqueline never poses for him; but she is there always, everywhere. All the women of these years are Jacqueline, and yet they are rarely portraits. The image of the woman he loves is a model imprinted deep within him, and it emerges every time he paints a woman’ (M.-L. Bernadac in Late Picasso (exhibition catalogue), Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris & Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 78).