Lot 164
  • 164

Pablo Picasso

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Tête de femme
  • Signed Picasso (upper right); dated 5.12.64.VII (on the reverse)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 21 3/4 by 18 1/8 in.
  • 55.3 by 46 cm


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Kootz Gallery, New York
Irving Kay, New York (acquired circa 1968 and sold by the estate: Christie’s, New York, May 3, 2006, lot 401)
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale and sold: Christie's, Shanghai, April 26, 2014, lot 21)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1964, vol. XXIV, Paris, 1968, no. 305, illustrated pl. 121


Work is in excellent condition. Canvas is not lined. A thick impasto is well preserved in several areas. Under UV light, no inpainting is visible.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Jacqueline Roque was the sixth and final significant muse in the life and work of Pablo Picasso. They met in 1953 when she was in her late twenties and he was in his early seventies. Her beauty is legendary and recorded in photographs of the time by the likes of Cecil Beaton and David Douglas Duncan (see fig.1). Picasso was instantly enchanted and is said to have wooed her by drawing a dove on her house in chalk and bringing her a rose a day until she agreed to go out with him. In 1961, following the death of Picasso’s estranged first wife Olga, he and Jacqueline married. Jacqueline was a hugely stabilizing influence on the artist and was a stimulus for the exuberant creativity of the last two decades of his life. From the inception of their relationship, to the day he died, Picasso engaged in one of the most prolific periods of his entire working career. One important element of this period was his renewed interest in the painters of the Italian Renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age. It is from the 1960s that Picasso repeatedly depicts the character of the Mousquetaire, casting himself as the dashing soldier, a stock figure from seventeenth-century painting. In like manner, the present work evokes arguably the most famous female portrait of all time: the sixteenth-century painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (see fig. 2). Jacqueline—like da Vinci’s subject—is depicted in half profile, with cascading dark hair and the iconic half-smile on their lips. As with his images of musketeers, Picasso self-consciously places himself in an art historical narrative by drawing upon canons of the past and adapting them to his own ends. In doing so, he masterfully exalts the importance of Modern art—and more specifically his art—as the culmination of creative exploration.

In a strange turn of events, Picasso was even suspected of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Musée du Louvre, Paris, upon its disappearance in August 1911. Picasso had earlier knowingly purchased Iberian sculptures that had been stolen from the Louvre and once this indiscretion was discovered, authorities willfully made a connection between these and the stolen Mona Lisa. Picasso was brought to the magistrate’s court and ultimately released, but not until after an intense and stressful court case. Picasso was known to have been deeply ashamed by the whole affair and his then-lover Fernande speculated that the artist never forgave her for having seen him so upset. The present work—painted some fifty years after the case—demonstrates a different kind of ownership of the work and emphatically marks his recovered pride.

In addition to its particular place in Picasso’s thematic evolution, the present work is significant for impressing upon the viewer a particularly personal sentiment. Jacqueline is depicted in soft, curvilinear lines and swirling brush strokes. The palette is one Picasso frequently employed for paintings of his second wife; in his painting of the same year Le Peintre et son modèle (see fig. 3) Picasso chooses similar hues of green and yellow. These colors are bright and exuberant, evoking the verdant tones of the natural world. Indeed, in a later painting of 1969, Picasso paints the pair encircled by floating leaves, symbolic of the generative role she played in his life.

Jacqueline was distraught following Picasso’s death in 1973; she struggled to cope without him and, though active in arranging exhibitions of his works, she eventually took her own life in 1986.

The loves of Pablo Picasso had long exerted a strong influence on his creative output and their various portraits feature throughout his seventy-year career. At times reflecting discord, at times exultant joy, these portraits always offer a significant insight into the emotional workings of an artist hailed the father of Modern art. Jacqueline more so than any other was a spur to his creative genius; he painted more pictures of her than any other muse. The present work is therefore not only a fascinating testament to Picasso’s continual engagement with art history and his self-promoted role in it, but also a wonderful example of a theme that sustained throughout Picasso’s life and a subject that dominated the last twenty years of it.