Lot 17
  • 17

Pablo Picasso

700,000 - 900,000 GBP
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  • Pablo Picasso
  • Buste de femme couchée
  • signed Picasso and dated 14.8.70. (upper right)
  • oil pastel and pencil on card
  • 22.5 by 27.6cm.
  • 8 7/8 by 10 7/8 in.


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris 

Galerie Beyeler, Basel (by 1971)

Private Collection, Basel

Thence by descent to the present owner



Paris, Galerie Louise Leiris, Picasso. Dessins en noir et en couleurs, 1969-71, no. 157, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Basel, Galerie Beyeler & Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Picasso Ausstellung - 90 Zeichnungen, 1971-72, no. 84 (titled Buste de femme)

Basel, Kunstmuseum, Die Picassos sind da! Eine Retrospektive aus Basler Sammlungen, 2013, no. 159, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1970, Paris, 1977, vol. 32, no. 259, illustrated pl. 81

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1970, Buste de femme couchée illustrates Picasso’s ongoing exploration of the female form. Picasso met Jacqueline Roque in 1952 at the pottery studio in Vallauris, when he was still living with Françoise Gilot. The artist soon fell under her spell and, following his separation from Gilot in 1954, Jacqueline became his principle model and muse; his depictions of her constitute the largest group of images of any of the women in his life. In the 1950s she served as a model for several of Picasso's reinterpretations of art historical masterworks, 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 the present work Picasso shows her reclining, with her supine figure and the latent sensuality of the image recalling his celebrated 1930s portraits of Marie-Thérèse. The scale of the composition and the way her body fills the picture plane make it a particularly intimate work, whilst the vibrant colours and the richness of the chalk surface combine to imbue it with a delightful vivacity.

As in many of his late works Jacqueline is not named as the subject, but is immediately recognisable from her raven-black hair, dark eyes and striking features that Picasso often portrayed in a distinctively asymmetrical arrangement. Instead she becomes part of the dialogue between artist and muse that is a particular feature of Picasso’s later work. As Marie-Laure Bernadec 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).