Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Property From the Collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
signed 'Picasso' (lower left); dated '28.10.55' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
45 5/8 x 35 in. (115.8 x 89.9 cm.)
Painted on 28 October 1955
Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris.
Saidenberg Gallery, New York (by 1957).
Private collection, New York.
Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zürich.
Daros collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above, circa 1997 and until at least 1999).
Acquavella Contemporary Art, Inc., New York (2005).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 9 May 2006.
R. Penrose and E. Quinn, Picasso at Work, London, 1965 (illustrated in color in situ in the artist's studio).
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1965, vol. 16, no. 490 (illustrated, pl. 167).
D. Cooper, Braque: The Great Years, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago, 1972, p. 75 (illustrated, fig. 58).
P. Daix and E. Quinn, The Private Picasso, Boston, 1987, p. 149 (illustrated in color in situ in the artist's studio).
Y.-A. Bois, Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry, exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1999, pp. 231 and 234 (illustrated in color, fig. 227; titled The Studio a "La Californie").
Paris, Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler), Picasso: Peintures, 1955-1956, March-April 1957, p. 5, no. 4 (illustrated).
New York, Saidenberg Gallery, Pablo Picasso: Paintings, 1954-1955-1956, September-October 1957 (illustrated).
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Inc. and New York, Saidenberg Gallery, Homage to Picasso for his Ninetieth Birthday: Exhibition for the Benefit of the American Caner Society, October 1971, p. 83, no. 73 (illustrated).
Barcelona, Museo Picasso, Picasso: Indoor and Outdoor Landscapes, October 1999-January 2000, pp. 137 and 271, no. 109 (illustrated in color; titled The Studio of La Californie).
Kunstmuseum Bern, Picasso und die Schweiz, October 2001-January 2002, p. 372, no. 148 (illustrated in color).
Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Picasso: The Last Decades, November 2002-February 2003, p. 94, no. 17 (illustrated in color; titled Studio (La Californie)).

Lot Essay

LAtelier, dated 28 October 1955, brims with sundry accoutrements of the artist’s profession—stacked canvases, an assortment of paint tins and brushes atop a “Van Gogh” chair, a tool box holding some used wine bottles, refilled with oil media and thinners. A Spanish wineskin hanging on the wall betokens the Dionysian impulse in the creative endeavor. The painted ceramic te de femme, 1953 (Musée Picasso, Paris) represents the classic studio encounter between artist and model. This choc-a-bloc studio inventory is the fourth and most elaborate of the eleven Atelier canvases that Picasso painted between 23 and 31 October 1955, all in a vertical format. A twelfth picture, featuring a wide-screen view of the studio, followed on 12 November.
In the spring of 1955, during an evening stroll in the hills above Cannes, Picasso and Jacqueline Roque chanced upon a villa for sale, "La Californie", built in 1920 but designed in an unabashedly ornate, fin-de-siècle Art Nouveau style. Having completed his Femmes dAlger series several months previously, Picasso mused on the “Orientalist” aspect of the tall arched windows and the floral arabesque motifs in the room décor.
Picasso and Jacqueline had been dividing their time between his house "La Galloise" in Vallauris, and her cottage in nearby Golfe-Juan. The artist needed far more space for his work and storage; he moreover desired to leave behind those lingering memories of "La Galloise" that pertained to his previous partner, Françoise Gilot, who had left him, taking their two children, in the fall of 1953. Pleased with his new companion, Picasso decided that he and Jacqueline must have a suitably large home to call their own. He purchased "La Californie" on 6 April 1955. The couple moved into the villa during June—the artist had first painted Jacqueline one year before.
Picasso decided to use the high-ceilinged grand salon on the ground floor of "La Californie" as his studio. When the shutters were opened, revealing the palm trees and other Mediterranean flora in the surrounding gardens, light streamed through the tall Art Nouveau windows into the large rooms on either side of the entrance hall. As an allegory of the creative process, the stylized window frame became the portal through which the interior life of the artist communed with the outer world of things as they are, forging the total experience of the artist’s reality.
The occasion of the October Atelier series coincided with Picasso’s 74th birthday—25 October—the first he celebrated in "La Californie". Just as he inscribed the cover of a 1907 sketchbook “Je suis le cahier,” the artist proclaimed in this painting—I am my studio. "La Californie" became the locus of Picasso’s creative activity for the next three-and-a-half years. “He quickly responded to the stimulus of the place in a series of what he called paysages d’intérieur: interior landscapes,” Marie-Laure Bernadac explained. “For Picasso, his studio is a self-portrait in itself. Sensitive to its ritual, its secret poetry, he marks with his presence the environment and the objects in it, and makes his territory into his own ‘second skin’” (Late Picasso, exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 58).
The October 1955 Atelier series is moreover a sequel to Les femmes dAlgers, a second eulogy Picasso devoted to his erstwhile rival, ultimately his good friend and sole acknowledged peer—Henri Matisse—who died in November 1954. The fifteen canvases of Les femmes dAlger, completed in February 1955, were ostensibly based on Delacroix’s painting in the Louvre, which had also influenced Matisse’s odalisques. Picasso’s series served as a tribute to both masters. “When Matisse died,” he told Roland Penrose, “he left his odalisques to me as a legacy” (quoted in Picasso: His Life and Work, Berkeley, 1981, p. 396).
The Vence interiors that Matisse painted during 1946-1948, the last group of large canvases he completed before concentrating on paper cut-outs, had stunned Picasso at the time, and now in the wake of his friend’s passing, returned to haunt him once again. The sumptuous Intérieur au rideau égyptien, for example, was among the paintings illustrated in a special Matisse issue of Verve in October 1948; the picture appeared in the artist’s 80th birthday tribute the following year at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, to which Picasso was accorded a private preview. Such was Picasso’s admiration—and even anxiety—before the Vence interiors that he hastily arranged an exhibition of his own recent works to coincide with the Matisse celebration. In his Ateliers of 1955, Picasso returned to this dialogue, as a parley and treaty between kings, before setting off on his next campaigns of interpretative acquisition, in which he took on Velázquez and Las Meninas, then Manet’s Le déjeuner sur lherbe.

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