Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Femme nue debout, vue de face dates from a watershed moment both in the life of the artist, Pablo Picasso, and in the history of Europe itself. For this work was executed on 15 June 1944, only nine days after the initial Normandy landings; and it dates from towards the beginning of Picasso's relationship with one of his greatest muses, the young artist Françoise Gilot. The pair had met only the year earlier, and within a matter of months had embarked on a relationship which would later result in Picasso's becoming a father again. Femme nue debout, vue de face relates to a group of pictures that Picasso created in 1944, exploring Françoise's body in pictorial terms in a manner that would continue through the next couple of years: the vertical form, the lush hair and the rounded breasts would lead to a range of works, not least his celebrated Femme-fleur portraits of 1946.
Picasso, and those of his circle who also met Françoise, was immediately impressed by her passion for art and also her immense vitality. She embodied hope and life in a way that Dora Maar, who had inspired so many of his striking, conflict-torn pictures of the previous years, did not. In Femme nue debout, vue de face, the mere fact that the femme is debout forms a striking contrast to the haunting images of the seated Dora that appeared to encapsulate and communicate the artist's torment during the Civil War in his native Spain and the Second World War. Here, rather than a weeping woman, Picasso is celebrating the vertical thrust of the youthful Françoise, who was then 22 years old; he is celebrating her voluptuous forms, and the vigour with which he has created this glyph-like rendering of her form hints at the extent to which her vivaciousness affected and inspired the artist, who was then several decades her senior.
Several of Picasso's muses and lovers went on, after their time with him ended, to write memoirs of their experiences, but perhaps none was so fascinating or indeed so incendiary as Gilot's own Life with Picasso, published, to the artist's great chagrin, in 1964. Gilot had the advantage of an artistic background and therefore managed to reveal many behind-the-scenes conversations while also providing great insights into Picasso's working methods. It was only some time after Femme nue debout, vue de face was made, for instance, that Picasso first tried to create an image of Françoise by having her model for him. Most of the time, Picasso worked not from life but from his imagination and his incredible visual recall. In this picture, then, Picasso's observational skills are revealed, having melded with his own emotional input as he responds to the novel forms of his new lover's body and personality.