• Old Master, Modern & Contempor auction at Christies

    Sale 7747

    Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Prints

    17 September 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 91

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Les Deux Femmes Nues (M. 16; cf. B. 390)

    Price Realised  


    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
    Les Deux Femmes Nues (M. 16; cf. B. 390)
    An important series of 22 lithographs, 1945, comprising thirteen of Mourlot's eighteen states, (states 4-15 and 18) and nine additional proofs, five of which are unrecorded intermediate states and variants, the 18th (final) state signed in pencil, numbered 3/50, the thirteen states recorded by Mourlot from editions of 19, the nine additional proofs extremely rare, on Arches and wove, some light and mount staining, occasional minor defects, framed
    L. 250 x 330 mm., S. 400 x 522 mm. (and smaller) (22)

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    Picasso's frenetic activity in the Mourlot workshop presented the printers working alongside him with a distinct problem - how to record for posterity the unceasing flow of images as they were created on stone. It was decided to pull at least five impressions of each image, plus one for the printer. These reserved proofs formed an almost complete archive of the artist's output from 1945-69, and was the basis for Mourlot's catalogue raisonne of Picasso's lithographs. On occasion, however, the system broke-down in the face of Picasso's impatience and creative energy and there was simply not enough time to print the desired number before the stone was re-worked. In addition there were proofs that Picasso took home with him, which Mourlot did not remember and could not photograph or document.

    In the case of Les Deux Femmes, Mourlot managed to capture eighteen states, each of which was printed in an edition of nineteen. Brigitte Baer (Baer, Dallas 1983) records the existence of several intermediate states not recorded by Mourlot, of which only one or two impressions were printed. One of these intermediate states (no. 80a) is present in this lot and has been included in the revised Mourlot catalogue (2009) as M. 7b. However, a close examination of the print suggests that it is in fact a combination of the eighth state (M. 8a) and a second stone (M. 8c). The present group also includes two intermediate states omitted from the revised catalogue, one recorded by Baer (The Huizinga Collection catalogue, no. 75), the other previously unrecorded.

    The present set is further evidence, if further evidence were needed, of Picasso's relentless creative drive. Almost half a century on commentators and cataloguers are still adding to the literature on a period of intense artistic activity almost unparalleled in the history of western art. Reconstructing the flow of events in the atelier via this fascinating group of prints is an absorbing and enlightening exercise.

    A breakdown according to the revised Mourlot catalogue:

    - M. 1 (not present)
    - M. 2 (not present)
    - Unrecorded intermediate state between M. 2 & 3
    - M. 3 (not present)
    - Unrecorded intermediate state between M. 3 & 4 (two impressions)
    - M. 4
    - M. 5
    - M. 6: Two impressions
    - M. 7a: Three impressions (two printed recto and verso of the same sheet)
    - M. 7a: An unrecorded proof in reverse
    - M. 7b: (almost certainly a combination of M. 8a & 8c)
    - M. 8a
    - M. 9: Two impressions (the second printed on a pale ochre background) - M. 10
    - M. 11
    - M. 12
    - M. 13: Two impressions (the second printed on a sheet of text)
    - M. 14
    - M. 15
    - M. 16 (not present)
    - M. 17 (not present)
    - M. 18

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Fourth, sixth, eighth and twelfth states: Marie-Thérèse Walter, according to collectors stamps, label and pencil inscription verso

    Pre-Lot Text



    Brigitte Baer, Picasso the Printmaker: Graphics from The Marina Picasso Collection, Dallas Museum of Art, 1983, p. 127-129
    Picasso Lithographs, Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2000, p. 42-47

    Post Lot Text