Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Picasso et Ses Muses: The Sam Rose and Julie Walters CollectionOne element above all influenced Picasso’s art: the woman in his life. And across the second half of his career four women, each reflecting Picasso in their gaze, inspired his genius in epochal ways.The Washington real-estate developer Same Rose and his wife Julie Walters spent years acquiring the four portraits to be offered in this auction, and what these powerful depictions of women reveal is that Picasso had a far more complex relationship with the muses in his life than first thought.The youthful Marie-Thérèse Walter, whom Picasso famously encountered on a Paris street in 1927, stimulated a highly-charged lyricism and driving colorism. Dora Maar, who entered Picasso’s life in the late 1930s, brought her steely intellect to bear in a series of profound and anguished portraits. Then, from 1943, Francoise Gilot became the central subject of Picasso’s art, introducing an irrepressible sense of rebirth. And finally, Jacqueline Roque, the guardian angel of his final years, in whose striking features Picasso saw an echo of the Antique.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Portrait de Françoise Gilot

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Portrait de Françoise Gilot
dated '26.12.48' (on the reverse) and dated again '2.5.47.' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 18 1/8 in. (65 x 45.9 cm.)
Painted 2 May 1947—26 December 1948
Estate of the artist.
Bernard Picasso, Paris (by descent from the above).
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London.
Helly Nahmad Gallery, London (acquired from the above, circa March 2002).
Gary Nader Fine Art, Miami (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 15 September 2006.
London, Helly Nahmad Gallery, La Vie en Rose, 2003, p. 63 (illustrated in color).
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection, October 2015-April 2016, p. 33 (illustrated in color).

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Lot Essay

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

This Portrait de Françoise Gilot bears two dates on the canvas stretchers, with a hiatus of more than a year and a half between them. Picasso commenced the painting on 2 May 1947; less than two weeks later, Claude, the artist’s first child with Françoise, was born in Paris. In the excitement occasioned by this momentous event, Picasso set aside the picture. A few weeks later the new family left for Golfe-Juan and spent most of the next year in the Midi. In May 1948 Picasso purchased in Françoise’s name the villa “La Galloise” in Vallauris, where he had been creating pottery since the previous summer. They moved in the following month. It was not until the day after Christmas of that year, 26 December 1948, that Picasso again took up the painting and completed it, perhaps as a holiday present for Françoise. She was already pregnant with their second child—their daughter Paloma was born 19 April 1949.
The elation and tenderness of Picasso’s complete connection with this attractive, fertile young woman, forty years his junior—moreover a talented and knowledgeable artist herself—radiate from his portrait of Françoise. In contrast to the split, three-quarter views and dueling profiles that he often devised in his portraiture, Picasso—especially during these early years of their relationship—delighted in gazing upon Françoise straight-on, eye-to-eye, face-to-face. Her visage becomes the radiant sun, the luminous moon, the ovary of a springtime flower—the latter just as he famously first portrayed her in May 1946, as La femme fleur (Zervos, vol. 14, no. 167).
After more than two years, floral leaf forms are still in evidence. They also relate to the large, ovoid sleeves of a Polish coat Picasso gave Françoise in late 1948, in which he attired her for the series of lithographs Femme au fauteuil, November-December 1948 (Rau, nos. 374-403). The circular, pod-like shapes in Françoise’s hair and on her neck are a reminder of the cherries Picasso had given her when they first met in a restaurant during the war, in May 1943. The final, crowning touch is Picasso’s gift—real or imagined—of a small, jaunty, feathered hat. Such adornment is unusual and infrequent in portraits of Francoise, who liked to go about bare-headed. Picasso, moreover, loved her thick mane of hair, worn free and loose in the post-war manner. Having painted her au chapeau, Picasso initiated Françoise into the company of her predecessors, Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar, each of whom he signified with her own distinctive variety of headwear.

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