Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011
Münster, Graphikmuseum Pablo Picasso, Pablo Picasso und Jacqueline: Vorletzte Gedanken, 2005-06, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Picasso Mosqueteros, 2009, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Tête d'homme du XVIIe siècle)
The musketeers are understood to be disguised portraits of Picasso himself. As Marie-Laure Bernadac has observed: ‘If woman was depicted in all her aspects in Picasso’s art, man always appeared in disguise or in a specific role, the painter at work or the musketeer-matador holding the implements of his virility – the long pipe, the dagger, or the sword. In 1966, a new and final character emerged in Picasso’s iconography and dominated his last period to the point of becoming its emblem. This was the Golden Age gentleman, a half-Spanish, half-Dutch musketeer dressed in richly adorned clothing. […] all of these musketeers are men in disguise, romantic gentlemen, virile and arrogant soldiers, vainglorious and ridiculous despite their haughtiness’ (Brigitte Léal, Christine Piot and Marie-Laure Bernadac, The Ultimate Picasso, New York, 2000, p. 455).
This was also the period in Picasso’s career when he seems to have been thinking particularly of Van Gogh. Whilst the example of Renaissance painters provided subject matter, Picasso’s interest in veiled self-portraits and the stylistic verve of his late works is clearly inspired by the Dutch artist. The richness and spontaneity of his brushwork – exemplified in the thick impasto and energetic working of Mousquetaire. Buste – are distinctly reminiscent of Van Gogh; it is as though in channelling the spirit of the young artist, Picasso was himself rejuvenated. John Richardson commented on this precise aspect of Picasso’s work, recalling: ‘Of all the artists with whom Picasso identified, van Gogh is the least often cited but probably the one that meant the most to him in later years. He talked of him as his patron saint, talked of him with intense admiration and compassion, never with any of his habitual irony or mockery. Van Gogh, like Cézanne earlier in Picasso’s life, was sacrosanct [...]. Why, one wonders, should a great artist want to paint self-portraits in the guise of another great artist? [...] The answer is surely that in losing your identity to someone else you gain a measure of control over them […]. I suspect that Picasso also wanted to galvanize his paint surface […] with some of the Dutchman’s Dyonisian fervor. The surface of the late paintings has a freedom, a plasticity, that was never there before; they are more spontaneous, more expressive and more instinctive than virtually all his previous work’ (J. Richardson in Late Picasso, Paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints 1953-1972 (exhibition catalogue), Tate Modern, London & Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, 1988, pp. 31-34).
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