Lot 42
  • 42

PABLO PICASSO | Femme nue debout

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Femme nue debout
  • Signed Picasso (lower left)
  • Gouache on paper
  • 24 3/8 by 18 7/8 in.
  • 62 by 48 cm
  • Executed in Spring 1909.


André Lhote, Paris

Harold Diamond, New York

Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above on October 25, 1959 and sold: Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, Stuttgart, May 3-4, 1961, no. 394)

Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)

Wolfgang Wittrock, Dusseldorf

Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above in 1989)

Acquired from the above in 1998


Basel, Galerie Beyeler, La Femme, 1960, no. 17 (titled Femme and dated 1907)

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, L'Éternel féminin, 1989-90, no. 47, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, Cubism, 1990, no. 4, illustrated in color in the catalogue

New York, Jan Krugier Gallery, A Tribute to Picasso 1973-1993, 1993, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue 

New York, Pace Wildenstein, Picasso and Drawing, 1995, no. 6, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Centro Cultural Eduardo León Jimenes, ¿Qué es el arte moderno para ti?, 2011


Pierre Daix & Joan Rosselet, Le Cubisme de Picasso, Neuchâtel, 1979, no. 247, illustrated p. 236

Mildred Glimcher, ed., Adventures in Art, 40 Years at Pace, New York, 2001, illustrated in color in an installation photograph p. 499


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

To say an artist is deeply influenced by Cézanne today is a veritable cliché. Such was not the case after the master's memorial exhibition in 1907 at the Salon d’Automne in Paris, where over fifty canvases confronted viewers, and the artists among the viewers in turn confronted Cézanne (see fig. 1). It was at this exhibition that Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and André Derain fully embraced Cézanne’s lessons, particularly those found in his nude bathers. “The Cézanne in the Salon d’Automne exhibition,” relates John Richardson, “which left the most immediate mark on works by Picasso and his new friends, Derain and Braque, were two of the large, late Grandes baigneuses. In the course of the next six months, these three painters would vie with one another over Cézanne’s mantle. Matisse was no longer in the race. Cézanne’s death had to some extent released him from the master’s thrall, whereas the commemorative exhibition had had a reverse effect on Picasso, Derain and Braque. They became more Cézannesque than ever” (J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso, The Cubist Rebel, 1907-1916, New York, 2012, p. 55). Picasso had known Cézanne’s work ever since his second trip to Paris in 1901; among a small avant-garde circle, Cézanne’s paintings and watercolors were celebrated even at this early date. It was not until his final years, however, that Cézanne began to have wider public appeal. Leo Stein recounted this transformation: “Hitherto Cézanne had been important only for the few; he was about to become important for everybody. At the Salon d’Automne of 1905 people laughed themselves into hysterics before his pictures, in 1906 they were respectful, and in 1907 they were reverent. Cézanne had become the man of the moment” (quoted in Cézanne and the Dawn of Modern Art (exhibition catalogue), Museum Folkwang, Essen, 2004-05, p. 182). Picasso would emphasize this deep admiration years later when, speaking to Brassaï he exclaimed: “[Cézanne] was my one and only master! Don’t you think I’ve looked at his paintings? I spent years studying them. Cézanne! He was like the father of us all” (reproduced in S. Roe, In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris 1900-1910, New York, 2015, p. 206).

Picasso’s working process had significantly changed in the two years prior to the execution of Femme nue debout. From the beautifully ethereal compositions of the Rose Period, Picasso moved toward the form and tonality of Cézanne’s work while also referencing works of African and Oceanic art that filled the halls of the Musée Trocadero, and, increasingly, his studio at the Bateau Lavoir. He began to draw incessantly, laying the groundwork for what would be his most revolutionary and shocking picture to date: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Now in The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Les Demoiselles is a triumphant expression of modern aesthetic values, and arguably the single most influential painting created in the twentieth century. Over the course of the next two years, the female form would continue to dominate Picasso’s paintings and sketchbooks. Large, monumental groupings of nudes would overlap each other as seen in Trois femmes, now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Throughout these works the human body is characterized by an increasingly geometricized, broken down grouping of forms which allowed the artist to explore the sitter’s figure from multiple angles and to achieve a highly volumetric, sculptural feel. As John Golding has commented: “Picasso’s paintings of 1908 had been sculptural in appearance and intent and in some of them there are already hints or implications of the multi-viewpoint perspectives of early Cubism.... Picasso had become interested in a sculptural approach to painting because of the physicality of his vision, because he wanted to touch and to mold and to handle his subjects. Now, with the abandonment of traditional single viewpoint perspective he was able to achieve his goal of taking possession of his subjects more completely and to give his canvases a dimension that in a sense already existed in free-standing sculpture: for clearly the essential property of sculpture in the round is that the sculptor impels the spectator to move around it and study it from all angles. With the adoption of multi-viewpoint perspective Picasso presented the viewer with a sculptural fullness or completeness on a two-dimensional support” (J. Golding in Picasso: Sculptor/Painter (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1994, p. 20).

1909 would prove a particularly fruitful year for Picasso. Femme nue debout most likely dates to the spring of that year when Picasso painted and drew large nudes, bathers and studies of heads, busts, and bodies (see fig. 2). In these compositions the figures read, play guitar and lounge in semi-abstracted space (see fig. 3). A few months later Picasso and Fernande Olivier would travel to Horta, a strenuous journey from Paris that involved days on a train and then a vertiginous mule ride through the mountains. It was in this remote village that Picasso would paint a series of oils of Fernande further breaking down form and creating a truly sculptural aesthetic, which in turn culminated in his bronze bust of Fernande’s head crafted in the fall on their return to Paris. In its static pose, daring application of medium and abstracted, sculptural quality, Femme nue debout is a prime example of the twentieth century’s greatest artist on the brink of the shocking and enlivening Cubist movement.

Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.