Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Acquired by the father of the present owner in the mid-1970s
Turin, Galleria Gissi, Maestri Stranieri, 1970
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1967 et 1968, Paris, 1973, vol. 27, no. 198, illustrated pl. 75
In January 1968 Picasso created several paintings and drawings on the subject of a female nude, featuring the characteristic chignon worn by his last muse, Jacqueline Roque. Jacqueline was Picasso’s devoted second wife who remained with him until the time of his death in 1973, and his portrayals of her constitute the largest group of images of any of the women in his life. The artist first met Jacqueline in 1952 at the pottery studio in Vallauris, while he was still living with Françoise Gilot. By 1954 Françoise had left the scene, and the unmistakable raven-haired beauty began to appear in Picasso's paintings. Unlike Françoise, Jacqueline was accepting of the notoriously temperamental artist and his blind obsession with his art. Her unflappable support won the artist's heart, and Picasso married her in 1961. The photographer David Douglas Duncan, who knew Picasso and Jacqueline well during these years, observed that the couple ‘lived in a world of his own creation, where he reigned almost as a king yet cherished only two treasures - freedom and the love of Jacqueline’ (D. D. Duncan, Picasso and Jacqueline
, New York, 1988, p. 9).
John Richardson wrote about Picasso’s depictions of his last muse: ‘The brilliant series of portraits that record Jacqueline’s triumphant rise as Picasso’s maîtresse-en-titre reveal not only the splendors but also the miseries of her new role. Picasso and Jacqueline were more or less the same height (5 feet 4 inches), and they could easily be mistaken for father and daughter in that they both had strikingly larger features, notably very large eyes. […] In his portraits of Jacqueline, Picasso often gave her his eyes – enormously magnified, but nonetheless submissive; infinitely loving, but sometimes sick or scared’ (J. Richardson in Picasso, The Mediterranean Years, 1945-1962 (exhibition catalogue), Gagosian Gallery, London, 2010, pp. 29 & 33). The emotional complexities of their relationship and beautifully rendered in this intimate portrait.