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

Buste d'homme

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Buste d'homme
dated '24.10.43.' (lower right)
pencil on light blue paper
15 x 9 7/8 in. (38.1 x 25.1 cm.)
Drawn on 24 September 1943
Marie-Thérese Walter, a gift from the artist, until at least 1973.
James Goodman, New York.
Farsetti, Prato.
Acquired at the above by the present owner.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. XIII, Oeuvres de 1943 et 1944, Paris, 1962, no. 161 (illustrated p. 85).
The Picasso Project, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture: Nazi Occupation, 1940-1944, San Francisco, 1999, no. 43-268 (illustrated p. 277).
Geneva, Galerie Jan Krugier, Une collection Picasso: huiles, gouaches, dessins, collages et découpages: oeuvres de 1937 à 1946 provenant de la Collection de Marie-Thérèse Walter, December 1973, no. 24 (illustrated).
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Sale room notice
Please note the execution date of this work is 24 October 1943 and not as stated in the catalogue.

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Lot Essay

Picasso spent much of the first half of October 1943 engaged on paintings of seated women, a subject that in many ways typifies his output during the war years. On October 24th, however, he switched to a male sitter, a return to a subject not tackled since leaving Royans for Paris three years earlier. On that one day Picasso drew five preparatory pencil busts (Z.XIII, 158-162) - including the present work (Z.XIII, 161) - and a watercolour head (Z.XIII, 157), before completing the painting, Le Marin (Z.XIII, 167), on the 28th. The motif subsequently disappeared from his work as suddenly as it had come. The next day he drew two heavily abstracted oil on paper male busts (Z.XIII, 151-152), before adapting the motif of a sitter leaning on one arm back into three further depictions of seated women (Z.XIII, 153-156).

It may have been Picasso's work on the monumental Homme au mouton sculpture - completed earlier in 1943 - that renewed his interest in the male figure; however, Gertje Utley has also suggested a link to Picasso's growing unease at harassment by the Nazi authorities. Just five weeks before drawing Buste d'homme the artist received a letter summoning him to a labour camp in Germany, and although he was able to avoid the summons, Picasso was regularly visited, insulted, and had his works destroyed by German agents. In 1944 Picasso told Jerome Seckler that the blue and white striped shirt in his 1938 oil Maya in Sailor Suit, originally also titled Le Marin, indicated a self-portrait. The striped shirt in this work may be seen to imply the same. The club-like raised fist and the violent distortions of the face and body perhaps reference not just Picasso's general horror of the war, but also the personal fear and anguish caused by his present situation in Paris.

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