Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Trois femmes et amour introduces the viewer into the world of whimsy and sensuality of Pablo Picasso. During the post-War period, Picasso created a range of enchanting works on paper which recalled in their content some of his works from the 1930s, but which were now filled with a new energy. The looping, swirling sense of line in Trois femmes et amour and the frenetic hatching that he has used in so many parts is a mile away from the more calculated works of the earlier part of his career, and reveals Picasso's playful energy. Indeed, there is a deliberately childlike quality to some of the areas of shading, which resemble scribbles yet perfectly convey the intended impression.
As was the case in many of the greatest works from this period, Picasso is clearly paying his respects to, or perhaps attacking the pedestals of, the Old Masters. The figure of the naked woman wearing a hat, shown on the left accompanied by the cupid of the title, appears to pay homage to Lucas Cranach's Venus and Cupid, while other elements appear culled from other centuries and artists, revealing Picasso's magpie-like ability to absorb elements from the visual world around him, including his predecessors. Are these, then, three debauched graces?
Perhaps one of the most important precedents in Trois femmes et amour, in terms both of some of its baroque feel and its deliberate resemblance to a print, may be Rembrandt: during this time, Picasso often leafed through books of the Dutch master's drawings and was doubtless likewise aware of his prints. At the same time, this harem-like grouping may also have a hint of Delacroix's Femmes d'Algers to which Picasso had paid such repeated homage. That atmosphere of eroticism and romance was central to much of Picasso's work of this period. He had married, almost a decade earlier, Jacqueline Roque, who had already begun to appear in his pictures in the mid-1950s. But by the end of his life, he admitted to his friend Brassaï that, while his desire to make love was still strong, the ability was not. His erotically-themed pictures, then, acted as a form of extension, or wish-fulfilment.
At the same time, Picasso saw his pictures, and the characters within them, almost as children. He was fascinated by them and by the narrative that would be played out largely following the caprices of his own imagination. 'Of course, one never knows what's going to come out, but as soon as the drawing gets underway, a story or an idea is born,' he explained. 'And that's it. Then the story grows, like theatre or life and the drawing is turned into other drawings, a real novel. It's great fun, believe me. At least, I enjoy myself no end inventing these stories, and I spend hour after hour while I draw, observing my creatures and thinking about the mad things they're up to. Basically, it's my way of writing fiction' (Picasso, quoted in R. Otero, Forever Picasso: An Intimate Look at His Last Years, trans. E. Kerrigan, New York, 1974, p. 171).