Lot 106
  • 106

PABLO PICASSO | Nu couché tenant une fleur - recto Nu couché, personnage et deux pigeons - verso

200,000 - 300,000 EUR
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  • Pablo Picasso
  • Nu couché tenant une fleur - recto Nu couché, personnage et deux pigeons - verso
  • signed Picasso and dated 11.2.72. (upper left) - recto
  • pen, brush, ink and pencil on paper
  • 49.5 by 64.1 cm; 19 1/2  by 25 1/4 in.
  • Executed on January 11-12 and February 11, 1972.


Galerie Welz, Salzburg
Private Collection (acquired in 1985)
Sale : Sotheby's, London, February 4, 2015, lot 381
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Vienna, Habarta, Austellung Picasso in Wien, 1981, no. 97, illustrated in the catalogue n.p.
Salzburg, Galerie Welz, Pablo Picasso, 1985, no. 20a & 20b


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Œuvres de 1971-1972, Paris, 1978, vol. 33, nos. 310 & 311, illustrated p. 109

Catalogue Note

This extraordinary double-sided drawing is testament to Picasso's natural flair as a draughtsman. Executed in 1972, when Picasso's physical endurance, aged 91, had inevitably waned, the erotic subjects in his paintings and drawings only intensified. The topics of sex and passion appeared under many forms throughout Picasso’s career, as the artist used “sex as a metaphor for art, and art as a metaphor for sex” (John Richardson, quoted in Marie-Laure Bernadac, Picasso 1953-1972: Painting as Model, in Late Picasso (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 77). After nearly a decade of obsessively painting nudes, most of which depicted Marie-Thérèse Walter, at the end of the 1930s Picasso produced very few and focused rather on portraits. Female nudes returned to favor only at the beginning of the 1940s, which also marked a reintroduction in his work of certain stylistic elements from his cubist years.
Drawn with a sure and free-flowing ink line, the image of the reclining nude on the recto image of the present work is one of pure sensuality like the odalisques of Ingres and Matisse. The flower, the centre of the composition, is, surrounded by the serpentine lines of her oversized breasts, eyes and lips. On the verso image, the female figure writhes in ecstasy and the male figure, clasping woman's face in both hands, could be interpreted as the ageing artist himself reclaiming the sexual stamina of his youth. The contortions of the figure, whose sharp profile resembles that of Jacqueline, call to mind some of Picasso's most sensual depictions of the voluptuous Marie-Thérèse from the 1930s. In the 1960s and 1970s, his work was based on compositions inspired by his mistresses’ features, and often reflected the intense fluctuations in their relationships. The artist would isolate the elements of his subjects that most fascinated him, and represent them with great freedom and spontaneity. The striking straightforwardness of these two drawings well illustrates Picasso’s motto: “art can only be erotic”.