Details & Cataloguing



Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
dated 25.3.67 and numbered III (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
60,4 x 73,2 cm; 23 3/4 x 28 7/8 in.
Painted on March 25th, 1967.
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Jacqueline Picasso, Paris
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 18046, ph. no. 6H926)
Dobe collection, Zurich
Private collection, Switzerland (and sold: Sotheby's, London, December 8, 1999, lot 177)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Reykjavik, Reykjavik Museum, Picasso, exposition inattendue dédiée aux peintres, 1986, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue p. 57 (under the title Fantasme)


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Œuvres de 1965 à 1967, Paris, 1972, vol. XXV, no. 311, illustrated p. 136

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1967, Nu allongé et tête d’homme attests to the expressive power of Picasso’s later works. In this painting, the two figures incorporate iconographical and compositional elements of the “painter and his model”, a key topic in the master’s oeuvre, to the extent that it became, as pointed out by Michel Leiris, a genre in its own right, on a par with his landscapes or still lifes.
In Jean Leymarie’s view, “The painter and his model is the dialogue between art and nature, between painting and the real” (in Jean Leymarie, Picasso: Métamorphoses et unité, Geneva, 1971, p. 279). The juxtaposition of the man and the nude woman, of the artist and his muse, reflects this endless search to represent the erotic tension that the artist found at the heart of the creative process. In this work, the typical attributes — the paintbrush, palette, easel and studio — are missing. Only the odalisque’s divan is suggested by the very rich white impasto on which she lies. The spontaneity of the painting’s execution coupled with the subject, which is free of any attributes, generates a direct erotic charge between the two figures. Seduction and desire are signalled by the spirited movement of the long brushstroke which, emanating from the man, envelops the elongated nude by closely following her contours.
By referring to the odalisques of the Old Masters — Rubens, Ingres and Delacroix — Picasso’s work continues in their tradition and represents a continuation of the history of art. But through the very specific handling of the female nude, he is also certainly referring here to his friend and greatest rival, Henri Matisse. After the master’s death, he told Roland Penrose: “When Matisse died, he left his odalisques to me as a legacy” (Roland Penrose, Picasso, Paris, Flammarion, 1982, p. 159). Towards the end of his own life, while living with Jacqueline Roque in the villa Notre Dame de Vie in Mougins, the painter and his model became the central theme of Picasso’s art, representing the summary of his aesthetic research. Nu allongé et tête d’homme is part of a series of works that became, so to speak, the artist’s brilliant last will and testament, at once a tribute to the tradition of the great masters of the past and to the painter’s profession, and an embodiment of his insatiable creative energy.