• The Leslie Waddington Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 14175

    The Leslie Waddington Collection

    4 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 22

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Tête de femme


    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
    Tête de femme
    signed 'Picasso' (on the back)
    bronze with dark brown patina
    Height: 4 5/8 in. (11.8 cm.)
    Conceived in 1906-07 and cast between 1910 and 1939 in an edition of at least 7

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    Diana Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
    Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

    Among Pablo Picasso’s earliest sculptures, Tête de femme dates from a transformative moment in the artist’s early career, during which he was inundated with a variety of stimulating influences that decisively changed the course of his art. With a striking simplicity, the stylised, mask-like face of Tête de femme encapsulates the radical new direction that Picasso had begun to take at this time, as he began to rethink the nature of representation, opening up bold new possibilities for both painting and sculpture.

    Conceived between 1906 and 1907, Tête de femme dates from the artist’s so-called ‘Iberian’ period. At the beginning of 1906, Picasso had discovered a newly acquired collection of Iberian sculptures at the Louvre, and was entranced by the expressionless, mask-like faces of these ancient objects. His summer trip to Gósol, a remote, rural village high up in the Spanish Pyrenees, heightened his interest in sculpture, opening his eyes to the unique aesthetic qualities of this three-dimensional art form. Indeed it was this summer sojourn that, as the dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler stated, marked the beginning of the artist’s lifelong experimentation with this medium (W. Spies, Picasso: The Sculptures, Stuttgart, 2000, p. 31).

    On his return to Paris, Picasso’s art changed. Leaving behind the Symbolist motifs and flattened waif-like figures of his Rose period, he began to transform the figure into solid, volumetric forms, taking a particularly sculptural approach in the construction and modelling of the human body. Likewise, the female face was stripped of individuality and sentiment, endowed with depersonalised mask-like features. With her perfectly symmetrical visage and highly stylised physiognomy, Tête de femme exemplifies these radical developments, demonstrating how Picasso forged a new mode of representation, one that was no longer reliant on realistic observation, but instead abstracted and simplified. Tête de femme marks the beginning of this trailblazing trajectory: this conception of the female form would become central to Picasso’s work of 1907, and reached its clearest apogee in the iconic and iconoclastic Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Museum of Modern Art, New York).

    Before entering Leslie Waddington’s collection, Tête de femme belonged to the renowned collector, patron and scholar of Cubism, Douglas Cooper. Cooper was a passionate and devoted advocate of Cubism, amassing one of the largest cubist collections of the XXth Century, particularly the work of Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, and Picasso. He became very close with Picasso in the 1950s, residing near the artist’s home in the south of France. A long-term champion of the artist, Cooper kept Tête de femme in his collection until his death in 1984.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Douglas Cooper, London and Argilliers; his sale, Christie's, New York, 11 May 1992, lot 6.
    Acquired at the above sale by Leslie Waddington.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this work was cast between 1910 and 1939, and in an edition of at least 7 not 3, as stated in the catalogue.


    C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. 2, oeuvres de 1912 à 1917, Paris, 1942, no. 574 (another cast illustrated, pl. 266).
    Brassaï & D.H. Kahnweiler, Les Sculptures de Picasso, Paris, 1949 (another cast illustrated, pl. 3).
    W. Boeck & J. Sabartés, Picasso, London, 1961, no. 79, p. 489 (illustrated p. 433).
    W. Spies, Picasso Sculpture, London, 1971, p. 40, no. 12, p. 301 (another cast illustrated p. 40).
    M.L. Besnard Bernadec, M. Ricket & H. Seckel, Musée Picasso, catalogue sommaire des collections, Paris, 1985, no. 278, p. 151 (another cast illustrated).
    W. Spies & C. Piot, Picasso, The Sculptures, Stuttgart, 2000, p. 394, no. 12 (another cast illustrated, pp. 41 and 346).


    London, The Waddington Galleries, Sculpture, November - December 1970 (another cast illustrated).