318
318
Pablo Picasso
BETHSABÉE ET LA LETTRE DE DAVID
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT
318
Pablo Picasso
BETHSABÉE ET LA LETTRE DE DAVID
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

|
New York

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
BETHSABÉE ET LA LETTRE DE DAVID
Signed Picasso and dated 3.5.63 III (upper right)
Colored crayon and pencil on paper
10 3/8 by 14 5/8 in.
26.4 by 37.1 cm
Executed on May 3, 1963.
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Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Provenance

Galerie d'Elysée, Paris
Arcature Fine Art, Palm Beach
Russeck Gallery, Palm Beach (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, Palm Beach (acquired from the above in 2010)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2018

Catalogue Note

Bathsabée et la lettre de David is Picasso’s homage to the celebrated painting by Rembrandt van Rijn entitled Bathsheba at Her Bath which belongs to the Musée du Louvre, Paris (see fig. 1). This painting illustrates a scene from the second book of Samuel in the Old Testament in which King David sees Bathsheba, the wife of an army General named Uriah, bathing from a distance. Instantly engulfed by lust, King David sends her a letter summoning her to the palace where she is forced to commit adultery, and consequently becomes pregnant with his child. The King orders Uriah to be abandoned in battle, left for certain death, so that he and Bathsheba may be married. Their child perishes as punishment from God for their cruel and adulterous behavior.

Picasso, following Rembrandt’s suit, depicts Bathsheba at the moment she receives David’s letter, alone but for a maid who helps to prepare her bath. A scene charged with dramatic tension which is reflected in Picasso's choice of a vivid palette, this is the moment when Bathsheba, and in turn the viewer, comprehends the profundity of the King's summons and the effect it will have on young Bathsheba’s life. Paralyzed and destabilized by the news, Bathsheba’s emotions traverse her darkened face which stands out prominently amidst the multi-colored composition.

While Picasso often painted after Old Masters such as Goya and Rubens, and had even engaged with the subject of Bathsheba previously, the timing of this depiction of Bathsheba may have been particularly poignant for him. In 1963, when he painted Bathsabée et la lettre de David, Picasso was newly married at 84 years old; the topic of virility was a major preoccupation for the artist. "It is age that forced us to stop making love," Picasso lamented. "You can't do it anymore, but you still want to" (quoted in Diana Widmaier Picasso, Picasso: Art Can Only be Erotic, New York, 2005, p. 108).

Bathsabée et la lettre de David thus encompasses the major themes of Picasso’s art such as sex, mortality, fecundity, love and power, and as such Picasso lends insight into his late psyche while simultaneously aligning himself with the great masters of the past.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York