Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Femme assise au chapeau

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Femme assise au chapeau
dated '1.1.61.' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
45 5/8 x 36¼ in. (116 x 92 cm.)
Painted 1 January 1961
Estate of the artist.
Jacqueline Picasso, Paris.
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.
Private collection, Japan, by 1992.
Yoshii Gallery, New York.
Pascal de Sarthe Fine Art, Scottsdale.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1968, vol. 19, no. 418 (illustrated, pl. 131).
H. Parmelin and D. Cooper, Picasso: Woman, Cannes, Mougins, 1954-1963, p. 115 (illustrated in color).
Reykjavik Art Museum, Picasso, exposition inattendue dediée aux peintres, May-July 1986, no. 21 (illustrated in color, p. 51).
Centro Cultural Consolidado, Five Grandes de España, August-September 1992. Basel, Galerie Beyeler, June-July 1998.

Lot Essay

Picasso painted Femme assise au chapeau on New Year's Day, 1961; the very first work he executed that year. He had not painted since 21 December 1960, when he executed three bustes de femme (Zervos, vol. 19, nos. 401-403). He then appears to have taken a break for the holiday season, after which he painted the present canvas. He finished another painting on 1 January, Femme assise, which he numbered 'II'; this was his final working of a canvas that he had begun on 19 December 1960 (Z., vol. 19, no. 409).

Femme assise au chapeau depicts Jacqueline Roque, the artist's companion since 1954, whom he married three months after this painting was done. She is shown seated wearing a gardener's hat with a floppy brim, which makes its first appearance here. It would feature in more than a dozen paintings and drawings during the next two months, and then again in a drawing at the very end of the year (Z., vol. 20, nos. 164 and 170). Picasso seemed especially interested in the planar construction of Jacqueline's head. Here he contrasts the brightly illuminated side of her face with the opposing side seen in deep shadow. He juxtaposes Jacqueline's rigidly angular profile with the wavy, flowing outlines of her hair and the brim of her hat.

The varied forms in Femme assise au chapeau are decidedly sculptural, and in this regard, the painting proved to be a significant and auspicious inaugural work for the new year. Only two months before Picasso had resumed making sculptures in bent and folded sheet metal in the Vallauris workshop which had done similar work for him in 1954 and 1957. Lionel Prejger, a local contractor, had recently taken over the business and enticed Picasso to return. Considering the possibility of transforming the subject of Femme assise au chapeau into a sculpture, Picasso explored the plastic potential of this image in a series of drawings he executed on 3 January (Z, vol. 19, nos. 410-411, 414-416). He then executed a painting on 27 January (Z., vol. 19, no. 422) that is a virtual flat-form template for a paper maquette, which Picasso then fashioned from cut and folded paper (Spies, no. 626.1). The artist then gave this to Prejger, who had his workmen construct four metal cut-out sculptures titled Femme au chapeau. The first was painted in multiple colors, the next was painted white (fig. 1), another was done in brown, and final one was left unpainted (S., no. 626a-d, respectively).

Roland Penrose noted that in the sheet metal sculptures done in 1960-1961, "Picasso in fact had never been so near to uniting painting with three-dimensional sculpture" (in Picasso: His Life and Work, Berkeley, 1981, p. 441). Indeed, the painted and sculpted versions of Femme assise au chapeau were done at the height of a renewed dialogue in the artist's work between painting and sculpture, a process which had its most distant precedent in the assemblages and paintings done in 1913-1914 during Picasso's synthetic cubist phase. The activity of painting revealed to Picasso possibilities for sculpture; the making of sculpture in turn encouraged a more constructive conception of form in the paintings. This interchange of ideas in the early 1960s proved to be the final manifestation of this dynamic process in the artist's career, for in the final years of his life Picasso ceased making sculpture.

(fig. 1) Pablo Picasso, Femme au chapeau, 1960. Musée Picasso, Paris. BARCODE 23657519

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