La Femme au Tambourin undoubtedly validates the statement that Picasso was indeed the greatest printmaker of the twentieth century. The artist brings an atmospheric quality to the work through a powerful use of tone and contrast, with the potency of line lending itself to the strengths of the medium. Picasso presents us with a full length figure, in an intense contrapposto, that personifies grace and balance while maintaining a sense of monumental grandeur.
Based on compositions by Degas and Poussin, Picasso's dancing figure is thought to personify Dora Maar, his lover at the time. The figure exudes confidence and independence, characteristics that Picasso admired in Maar, while upholding the sense of exhilaration that this woman may have brought into the life of the artist. At the same time, on the cusp of World War II, the intense darkness that surrounds the figure suggests an untimely end to the excitement of this period.
As one of Picasso's greatest graphic works, La Femme au Tambourin not only allows us a glimpse into the personal life of the greatest modern artist but captures the spirit of a pivotal time in world history.
For a note regarding the provenance of this lot, please refer to lot 232.