Recently married to the ballerina, Olga Khokhlova, Picasso chose to spend his honeymoon in Biarritz surrounded by the aristocracy and its swathes of hangers-on, from financiers and other professionals, to courtesans, jewelers, gigolos and art dealers. Hosted by their friend and patron Eugenia Errázuriz at her villa La Mimoseraie, Picasso was introduced to her extensive social circle, of some of whose daughters' he executed pencil portraits. Identified only as the daughter of the Marquesa Villaurrutia (or Villarrutia), the sitter in the present work typifies the chic elegance that the seasonal inhabitants of Biarritz cultivated. The sitter's father, Wenceslao Ramirez de Villaurrutia was a career politician and diplomat from Spain, ambassador to France, Austria, England and Italy, who had been enobled in 1906.
The refined drawing style Picasso employed during the late 1910s was, however, relatively short-lived. As Michael Fitzgerald explains, Picasso had not even renounced fully Cubism for this new style, but rather incorporated it into a style that was uniquely his own: “Since at least 1914, Picasso had been deeply interested in Ingres’ ability to create portraits that overwhelm the sitter in artistic conceits without entirely dispatching verisimilitude…Picasso’s Cubist experience drives his stylistic revivalism far beyond its Ingresque roots.”1
1. Michael Fitzgerald, “Neoclassicism and Olga Khokhlova” in Picasso and Portraiture, Representation and Transformation, exhib. cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art & Paris, Grand Palais, 1996, p. 308
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