Picasso, following Rembrandt’s suit, depicts Bathsheba at the moment she receives David’s letter, alone but for a maid who helps to prepare her bath. A scene charged with dramatic tension which is reflected in Picasso's choice of a vivid palette, this is the moment when Bathsheba, and in turn the viewer, comprehends the profundity of the King's summons and the effect it will have on young Bathsheba’s life. Paralyzed and destabilized by the news, Bathsheba’s emotions traverse her darkened face which stands out prominently amidst the multi-colored composition.
While Picasso often painted after Old Masters such as Goya and Rubens, and had even engaged with the subject of Bathsheba previously, the timing of this depiction of Bathsheba may have been particularly poignant for him. In 1963, when he painted Bathsabée et la lettre de David, Picasso was newly married at 84 years old; the topic of virility was a major preoccupation for the artist. "It is age that forced us to stop making love," Picasso lamented. "You can't do it anymore, but you still want to" (quoted in Diana Widmaier Picasso, Picasso: Art Can Only be Erotic, New York, 2005, p. 108).
Bathsabée et la lettre de David thus encompasses the major themes of Picasso’s art such as sex, mortality, fecundity, love and power, and as such Picasso lends insight into his late psyche while simultaneously aligning himself with the great masters of the past.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.