The Comité Picabia has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
From the early-1930s to the outbreak of the Second World War, Picabia's life was more stable than ever. He renewed a lively relationship with Gertrude Stein, with whom he had lost contact for seventeen years, and was among the handful of artists that Léonce Rosenberg felt "counted," and therefore gave enormous support. Stein also introduced Picabia to Madame Marie Cuttoli, an influential woman in the artistic and political life of France and director of Galerie Vignon in Paris.
In Picabia's studio at the Château de Mai in the winter of 1934-1935, he completed a distinct group of figurative paintings that were in stark contrast to the multiple layering of imagery of the transparences of the 1920s. These works are deliberately simplified, heavily outlined solid images in which transparency is entirely eliminated. In some instances the forms are modeled in light and dark, but for the most part these boldly contoured figures are filled in with bright, flat colors or washed over with a dark, monochromatic blue-green tone. The subject matter was exceptionally varied and consisted of portraits such as the present lot, landscapes, genre scenes, religious and mythological subjects.
The inescapable simplicity of these images was unnerving to the critics, who declared that these paintings were meant to parody the current vogue for naturalism, or to take naïve sources such as primitive German woodcuts, images of sweet girls from fashion or pin-up magazines, and classic insipidities such as Cupids or Venus, and proceed to present them to the public through Picabia's sophisticated brush. Although Picabia's taste for parody was undeniable, his correspondence with Stein and his wife, Olga, during this time makes clear that he considered these significant paintings in their own right, not jokes or mockeries of contemporary naturalistic art.