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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Clown au singe

Details
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Picasso, P.
Clown au singe
signed 'Picasso' (upper right)
oil on canvas
13 x 7 in. (33 x 19.1 cm.)
Painted in 1901
Provenance
Pierre Loeb, Paris.
Maurice Wertheim, New York.
Literature
A. Cirici-Pellicer, Picasso antes de Picasso, Barcelona, 1946, pl. 60 (illustrated).
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1957, vol. I (Oeuvres de 1895 1906), no. 57 (illustrated, pl. 27).
P. Daix and G. Boudaille, Picasso: The Blue and Rose Periods, A Catalogue Raisonn of the Paintings, 1900-1906, Neuchtel, 1966, p. 195, no. VI.8 (illustrated).
J. Palau i Fabre, Picasso The Early Years, 1881-1907, Barcelona, 1980, p. 269, no. 673 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Berthe Weill, Tableaux et Pastels de Louis-Bernard-Lemaire et de Pablo Picasso, 1902, no. 9 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Picasso's interest in the theater and in harlequins started at a young age. The clown, with the monkey, would become two of the most important figures in Picasso's oeuvre, and "throughout his life, he was to emphasize the resemblance of his facial features with those of the animal, taking delight in pointing them out right up until his final and tragic self-portraits, done shortly before his death" (J. Clair, exh. cat., Picasso, 1917-1924, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 1998, p. 22).

"The traditional image of the ape..was inherited by the West from the Christian traditions of the East. The ape was a fallen angel: the angel who, in ascending the scala paradisi, would break the rungs in spite of its lightness... Thus when Picasso began using the iconography of the ape...he positioned himself in an age-old tradition... But he used it ironically. His apes were no longer shown as naturae degeneratis homo, but instead as the familiar animals of jugglers and buskers; so purely animal-like, so sprightly, that he put it at the top of the ladder, even above angels... It represented what Picasso himself, with undisguised erotic pride and in the exhaltation of his creative powers never ceased to want to embody, right up until late in his life: an authentically animal nature" (ibid, pp. 21-22).
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