Lot 34
  • 34

Pablo Picasso

8,000,000 - 12,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Buste d'homme lauré
  • Dated 11.5.69 on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas
  • 45 5/8 by 35 in.
  • 116 by 89 cm


Estate of the artist

Bernard Ruiz Picasso, Paris

Heinz Berggruen

Acquired from the above


Avignon, Palais des Papes, Pablo Picasso: 1969-1970, 1970, no. 32, illustrated in the catalogue

New York, The Pace Gallery, Picasso: The Avignon Paintings, 1981, illustrated in the catalogue

Kunstmuseum Basel, Pablo Picasso, Das Spätwerk, 1981, no. 38, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Gisors, Mairie de Gisors, Picasso, 1983

Vienna, Kunstforum & Tubingen, Kunsthalle, Picasso: Figur und Portrait, Hauptwerke aud der Sammlung Bernard Picasso, 2002, no. 88, illustrated in the catalogue

Nantes, Musée des Beaux Arts de Nantes & Padua, Palazzo Zabarella, Picasso: 1961-1972, 2001-03, no. 30 in Nantes & no. 31 in Padua, illustrated in the catalogue

Copenhagen, Arken Museum for Moderne Kunst, Picasso: For All Times, 2004, no. 35, illustrated in the catalogue

Malaga, Museo Picasso, Picasso: Anthology 1895-1971, 2004-05, no. 124, illustrated in the catalogue

Istanbul, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Sabancı Üniversitesi, Picasso in Istanbul, 2005-06, no. 128, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Rafael Alberti, A Year of Picasso Paintings: 1969, Paris, 1971, no. 180, illustrated in color n.p.

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1969, Paris, 1976, vol. 31, no. 194, illustrated p. 63

The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, The Sixties III, 1968-1969, San Francisco, 2008, no. 69-197, illustrated p. 161

Catalogue Note

The vibrant Buste d’homme lauré is a powerful example of a theme that was central to Picasso in the last years of his life. The work was painted during Picasso’s most prolific year, 1969, during which he seemed to not at all be affected by his advanced age but rather invigorated that he had more and more to paint.  These works were exhibited in a dedicated show the following year in 1970, organized by Christian Zervos, which opened at the Palais des Papes in Avignon.  This exhibition was one of two major exhibitions devoted to this time in the artist’s career and was the only one held during his life time. The large canvases were displayed one on top of another in the hall of Clement IV, taking full advantage of the high-vaulted ceilings in the Gothic venue.

Picasso’s objective to paint ‘nature’ is in direct opposition to the abstraction and minimalism which were becoming the mainstream for other artists during this same period.  For Picasso, the musketeer signified the golden age of painting, and allowed him to escape the limitations of contemporary subject matter and explore the spirit of a past age. Picasso’s inspiration for this figure and other masculine warriors of his late paintings can be traced to his Spanish childhood and his familiarity with Cervantes’ Don Quixote.  The Mousquetaire was a character that embodied the courtly mannerisms of the Renaissance gentleman, and Picasso now resurrected him for a twentieth-century audience.  The artist’s rendering of this image was also his tribute to the work of two painters he had adored throughout his life: Diego Velázquez, whose portraits of seventeenth-century Spanish nobility and sword-wielding monarchs were clear sources of inspiration for the present picture, and the Dutch master, Rembrandt van Rijn, whom Jacqueline Roque credited as being a key influence on Picasso’s art of this period.  It was through these reinterpretations and investigations of the Old Masters that Picasso reaffirmed his connection to some of the greatest painters in the history of art.

Brigitte Léal has considered what it meant for Picasso to be painting these historical characters in the late 20th century.  She considers the cultural significance of the musketeer: "It was not without humor that Picasso created these characters, whose amorous adventures he chronicled in his etchings.  Imagine painting musketeers in 1970!  They were ornamental figures whose clothes were a pretext both for the blaze of blood red and golden yellow and for the resurgence of a newly found Spanishness" (Brigitte Léal, Christine Piot, Marie-Laure Bernadac, The Ultimate Picasso, New York, 2000, p. 458). The present work is differentiated from other portraits of 1969 by the addition of a laurel wreath to the musketeer. Seldom used within his oeuvre, the laurel wreath is a rare symbol of triumph.