Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Jacques Ulmann, Paris (acquired between 1950 and 1967) Thence by descent to the present owner
Werner Spies, Picasso sculpteur, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Paris, 2000, no. 23, illustrated p. 60 and another version (bronze) illustrated p. 347
This rare terracotta figure has hardly ever been published and rarely exhibited. It is an exceptional testimony to the development of Cubism in sculpture. Dating from 1908, it was produced during that period of exceptionally fertile dialogue between Picasso and Georges Braque. The work perfectly reflects the radical reinterpretation of the representation of forms that they undertook together. The influence of Cezanne, his famous injunction to "treat nature through the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, everything placed in perspective; so that each side of an object, a plane, is directed towards a central point" is here applied. The key influence of tribal art that deeply affected the development of modern art is also embodied in this Nu assis and visible not only in the geometrical reduction of forms but also in the expressive force of the figure.
As Werner Spies explains, this sculpture is directly related to two paintings, Nu dans la forêt and especially Dryad today in the collection of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg (Werner Spies, Picasso Sculpteur, Paris, 2000, p.54). Stylistically, Nu assis follows on from Les Demoiselles d’Avignon while tending towards analytical cubism. The volumes are more developed, the face more abstract, with an emphasis on three-dimensional planes. It would not be long after the creation of Nu assis, in 1909, that Picasso would produce with Tête de Fernande his first truly cubist sculpture.
Here and there across the surface of Nu assis the artist’s fingerprints are visible pressed into the volumes of the figure and fixed forever in the medium. Sculptures from this period are excessively rare, all the more so in clay. Picasso understood the importance of this piece and did not hesitate to sign it with his initial "P" at the back.
Executed in white terracotta. The sculpture is sound and there are no apparent signs of significant cracking or restoration. There is a thin glossy patina or varnish which is darker in places and shows some light wear to the most protruding areas, consistent with age and handling. There are a few small studio stains in places. This work is in overall very good condition. "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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."