Lot 51
  • 51

Francis Picabia

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
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  • Francis Picabia
  • Ino
  • signed Francis Picabia (lower right) and titled (upper right)
  • watercolour and pencil on paper, in a wood and coloured mirror frame by Rose Adler 
  • not including frame: 62.8 by 48cm.; 24 3/4 by 18 3/4 in.
  • including frame: 81 by 67cm.; 31 7/8 by 26 3/8 in.


Rose Adler, Paris (a gift from the artist circa 1930)

Georgette Neuburger, Paris (niece of the above; by descent from the above)

Thence by descent to the present owners


Rome, Palazzo Barberini, Omaggio ad Apollinaire, 1960-61, no. 22, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Trasparente)

Brussels, Musée d'Ixelles, Picabia, 1983, no. 41, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Etude pour Ino)

Seibu Takanawa, The Museum of Modern Art & Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, Francis Picabia, 1984, no. 46, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Etude pour Ino)

Madrid, Salas Pablo Ruiz Picasso del Ministerio de Cultura & Barcelona, Fundació Caixa de Pensions, Francis Picabia, 1985, no. 99, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Etude pour Ino and as dating from 1929)

Nîmes, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Francis Picabia, 1986, no. 81, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Etude pour Ino)

Paris, Didier Imbert Fine Art, Picabia, 1990, no. 46, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Etude pour Ino)

Nice, Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, Picabia et La Côte d'Azur, 1991, no. 29, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Etude pour Ino)

Gijón, El Palacio Revillagigedo, Centro International de Arte, Picabia entre guerras, 1991, no. 23, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Estudio para Ino)

Lisbon, Centro Cultural de Belém, Francis Picabia antologia, 1997, no. 72, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Vence, Galerie Beaubourg - Château Notre-Dame des Fleurs, Francis Picabia, classique et merveilleux, 1998, no. 114, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Galerie 1900-2000, Francis Picabia, 2009, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Krems, Kunsthalle, Francis Picabia. Retrospektive, 2012, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, The Botticelli Renaissance, 2015-16, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Study for Ino, as dating from 1929 and with incorrect medium)

Zurich, Kunsthaus, Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, 2016, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Art et Décoration, no. 57, January-June 1930, illustrated in a photograph p. 119

William A. Camfield, Francis Picabia: His Art, Life and Times, Princeton, 1979, no. 324, illustrated n.p.

Catalogue Note

'Picabia has stretched man to his mysterious limits and rendered them apparent.'
Rose Adler, diary entry, 7th August 1930

'To me, my frame is like a toy with which the painting is playing, a hat that makes it want to be seen.'
Rose Adler

The present work belongs to a group of paintings known as Transparences that Picabia executed in the late 1920s and early 1930s, deriving their name from multiple layers of overlapping imagery. In Ino, two faces of undeterminable gender are combined with delicate foliage to create an image of timeless and mysterious beauty. Despite their transparent quality, the meaning and identity of the faces remains obscure, and the image appears to be a seemingly impenetrable allegory with characteristics of a dream or a mystic vision. In this series of works, Picabia often chose titles based on Biblical characters and Greco-Roman mythology, as is the case in the present composition, named after the Theban queen Ino.

Besides natural phenomena, Picabia’s Transparences also draw their inspiration from Romanesque Frescos, Renaissance painting and Catalan art. Writing about the present work, William A. Camfield has identified the head of St. John from Botticelli’s The Virgin and Child with Infant St. John the Baptist (fig. 1) as the source of the left-hand face (W. A. Camfield, op. cit., p. 235). Following his experimentation with Dadaism and abstraction, in the 1920s Picabia turned away from the aesthetic of shock towards a kind of ‘renaissance’, creating figurative images of mysterious, contemplative quality whose power lies in their evocative beauty and elegance of execution.

The frame for Ino was designed by Rose Adler (fig. 3), who received the work directly from Picabia shortly after its execution, and in whose family possession it has remained to this day. Adler (1890-1959) was a French clothes, furniture and jewellery designer and, alongside Pierre Legrain, one of the most famous designer-bookbinders of her time. In her work as a bookbinder, one of her major patrons was the celebrated designer and bibliophile Jacques Doucet. A prominent figure in the Parisian artistic circles from the 1920s, Rose Adler was close to a number of artists, writers and designers active during this period, and her innovative and avant-garde frames graced the works of many of her contemporaries, including Pablo Picasso (fig. 2), Georges Braque, Marie Laurencin and Man Ray (see p. xxx). Her Art Deco designs are particularly notable for their architectural quality, as well as a use of strong colours and a wide range of materials including wood, metal, glass and lacquer. Adler’s inventiveness and boldness are beautifully exemplified by the present frame designed for Picabia’s Ino.