PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
5 More
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property from The Stella Collection 
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Femme accroupie en costume turc II (Jacqueline)

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Femme accroupie en costume turc II (Jacqueline)
signed 'Picasso' (lower right) and dated '22.11.55.' (upper right); dated again and numbered '22.11.55. II' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
36 x 28 ¾ in. (91.5 x 73 cm.)
Painted on 22 November 1955
Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris.
Acquired by the family of the present owners, by 1957.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1965, vol. 16, no. 535 (illustrated, pl. 184).
M.-L. Bernadac, I. Monod-Fontaine and D. Sylvester, Late Picasso: Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings and Prints, 1953-1972, exh. cat., Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Geogres Pompidou Paris, 1988, p. 58 (illustrated, p. 59, fig. 26).
Paris, Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Picasso: Peintures 1955-1956, March-April 1957, no. 14.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art and The Art Institute of Chicago, Picasso: 75th Anniversary Exhibition, May-September 1957, p. 111 (illustrated).
Tel Aviv Art Museum (on extended loan, 2000-2021).
Tel Aviv Art Museum, Picasso, October 2002-February 2003, p. 45, no. 31 (illustrated in color).
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Sale room notice
Please note that the present lot is displayed with a loaner frame for the exhibition, which is available for purchase.

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Picturing his new lover, Jacqueline Roque, Pablo Picasso’s Femme accroupie en costume turc II (Jacqueline) is one of an important group of eleven seated portraits that developed out of the artist’s landmark series, Les femmes dAlger. Between December 1954 and February 1955, Picasso painted fifteen canvases based on Eugène Delacroix’s painting of the same name (1834, Musée du Louvre, Paris), each of which he assigned an identifying letter, from A to O. Constituting the artist’s single greatest achievement since the end of the Second World War, this series represents the first time Picasso comprehensively explored an important painting by an earlier artist, as well as standing as the most focused analysis he had done since the war years of the female figure set within a specific spatial environment.
Towards the end of 1955 Picasso made an important addition to the Femmes dAlger theme with Femme accroupie en costume turc II (Jacqueline) and the accompanying series. Featuring Jacqueline clad in a traditional Turkish costume, with this group Picasso honed in on the frontal, seated odalisque that emerged on the far left of his own various Femmes dAlger, transforming this figure into a deeply personal portrait. Conjuring the same heady eroticism and exoticism that pervades both Delacroix’s and Picasso’s Femmes dAlger, the present work is among the most radical of this series. Here, Picasso has reduced his lover’s forms, as well as her elaborate, ornate costume, to an ideogram—a series of lines, patterns, and planes. With a distinctly Matissean air, this portrait is both an homage to his great friend and rival, as well as an important precursor of the pioneering artistic language Picasso would pursue in the following decades. This would be the last time that Picasso evoked the Orientalist theme of the odalisque on canvas. From this point on, he morphed this motif into a nude, frequently pictured as a companion to the figure of an artist.
Picasso had met Jacqueline in 1952. Recently divorced with a young daughter, Catherine, she was working as a sales assistant at the Madoura ceramic studio in Vallauris, where the artist frequently worked. At this time, Picasso was still living with his then-lover, Françoise Gilot and their two young children in La Galloise, their home near Vallauris. By September of the following year, however, their relationship came to a dramatic end, with Gilot leaving the artist and returning to Paris. Soon after she left, the artist began to see Jacqueline, and by 1954 the pair had become a couple, with her unmistakable features appearing in his art in the summer of this year. “How could I have had any reservations about Pablo’s intentions?” Jacqueline said of these impressive portraits of her in profile, bold, pictorial declarations of love (quoted in J. Richardson, "L'Epoque Jacqueline" in exh. cat., op. cit., 1988, p. 17).
With her striking aquiline profile, shock of raven-colored hair, her physique, as well as her calm, devoted temperament, Jacqueline was the ultimate odalisque. Her resemblance to the right-hand figure of Delacroix’s Femmes dAlger—particularly the Louvre version—had not gone unnoticed by Picasso, who had long pondered the idea of tackling Delacroix’s masterwork. “[Picasso] had often spoken to me of making his own version of Les femmes dAlger,” Gilot recalled, “and had taken me to the Louvre on an average of once a month to study it... I asked him how he felt about Delacroix. His eyes narrowed and he said, ‘That bastard. He's really good’” (Life with Picasso, New York, 1964, p. 203).
The advent of a new love in Picasso’s life usually resulted in portraits that, at the outset, show her in her fullest sense. The powerful presence of Jacqueline in the composition of the final, culminating canvas of the Femmes dAlger series, Version O (sold, Christie’s New York, 11 May 2015, lot 8A) bears witness to the fact that she had become a significant force in his life. Susan Grace Galassi has suggested that Picasso’s treatment of Jacqueline in his Delacroix variations was “a means of announcing Jacqueline’s primacy in his ‘harem’... a means of leaving Gilot behind” (Picasso's Variations on the Masters, New York, 1996, p. 137). Painted some months after this final version, Femme accroupie en costume turc II affirms the then indomitable position of Jacqueline in Picasso’s life and art.
There was another important figure in Picasso’s life whose presence loomed large over his Femmes dAlger and the subsequent costume turc series. Shortly after Picasso completed Version O, Roland Penrose arrived at the artist’s Paris studio on the rue des Grands-Augustins to view the entire group. Penrose later recalled, “Bringing them out one after another he showed me the rich variety of style and fantasy to which Les Femmes dAlger had been subjected. My first sight of the Moorish interiors and the provocative poses of the nude girls reminded me of the odalisques of Matisse. ‘You are right,’ he said with a laugh, ‘when Matisse died he left his odalisques to me as a legacy, and this is my idea of the Orient though I have never been there’” (quoted in Picasso: His Life and Work, Berkeley, 1981, p. 396). Matisse and Picasso enjoyed a strong rivalry early in their careers, and many of the elements that were crucial to the evolution of modern painting and sculpture stemmed from their compulsive game of one-upmanship. They nonetheless became close friends, especially after the Second World War. The two surviving, towering titans of modernism, they saw themselves as the guardians of the long line of venerable traditions in European painting. They continued to follow each other’s work closely; each regarded the other as the only living artist worthy to be considered his peer. “You have got to be able to picture side by side everything Matisse and I were doing at that time,” Picasso once said. “No one has ever looked at Matisse’s painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he” (quoted in J. Golding, "Introduction" in E. Cowling et al., Matisse Picasso, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London, 2002, p. 13).
Picasso was therefore bereft when Matisse died on 3 November 1954. Devastated, he could not bear even to attend his funeral. As he had throughout his life, Picasso processed his grief through his art. He would proceed to hold dialogues with the masters, lately or long deceased, in his paintings. With the memory of his friend Matisse weighing heavily on his mind, he began his variations on Delacroix. In these pictures he initiated the systematic and sequential process that he would continue for the rest of his career, in which he took on and reinterpreted the great masters of the past—Matisse and Delacroix at first, then Velázquez, Rembrandt, Ingres, and Manet.
Picasso took an especially Matissean approach in the costume turc canvases, to an even greater degree than in the variations on Les femmes dAlger. Like Matisse, in these works Picasso employed costume and decoration as a primary means of evoking the seductive fantasy of Orientalism, as well as using pattern as a way to experiment with pictorial construction. The flattened planes of color that constitute the background of the present work hark back to Matisse’s 1912 Zorah sur la terrasse (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), painted during his sojourn in Morocco. Similarly, the overt arabesque patterned jacket recalls Matisse’s odalisques of the 1920s, such as the 1928 Odalisque assise (The Cone Collection, The Baltimore Museum of Art), sumptuously patterned, colored compositions in which sitter and setting unite in a decorative harmony.
The present work was painted in Picasso’s new home, the spacious nineteenth-century villa known as La Californie, which overlooked Cannes. Such was the artist’s fame by this time that he was finding it increasingly difficult to move around Paris without being mobbed by journalists and passersby. Deciding to relocate permanently to the Midi, he realized he needed a new home, finding La Galloise both too small and too associated with memories of life with Gilot. La Californie was the perfect answer. The elaborate Art Nouveau-style villa also had a vaguely Orientalist air. Picasso told Pierre Daix, “I thought so much about Femmes d'Alger that I found La Californie; that's how it is with painting. And Delacroix had already met Jacqueline” (quoted in P. Daix, Picasso: Life and Art, New York, 1993, p. 329).
The dialogue between generations of artists, and the inspiration and challenge past masters present to modern masters, is aptly illustrated by the fact that this interpretation and transumtation of Delacroix's masterpiece by Picasso itself became the source of inspiration and discovery for one of Pop Art's greatest masters, Roy Lichtenstein.
Jacqueline would hold reign over the new domain of La Californie for the years that followed. It was perhaps to recognize Jacqueline’s position as the dominant female presence in his life that Picasso depicted her as the odalisque in the costume turc paintings of late 1955, this time investing her with a distinctive sense of individuality and empowerment. She dominates the space within these pictures, clearly beguiling the artist as he explored a variety of stylistic means with which to capture his new muse. Picasso began his costume turc series on 19 November 1955 with two very different iterations of this subject—a sign of the brilliant diversity that defines this important group (Zervos, vol. 16, nos. 532 and 534; both Private collection).The sitter is not recognizably Jacqueline in either of these portraits, yet, her presence, regal poise and powerful stare indicate that they were undoubtedly inspired by her presence. In the more fully worked of this pair, Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil (Zervos, vol. 16, no. 534), Jacqueline appears in the costume that defines the series: a patterned jacket, trousers, and on her head, a fez with an embroidered headscarf.
The following day Picasso painted Femme au costume turc (Private collection), which may have been the result of an actual sitting. The portrayal of Jacqueline’s features here is the most naturalistic in the series. Picasso painted another, contrasting version the same day (Zervos, vol. 16, no. 533; Private collection), in which he reconfigured Jacqueline’s visage, bending her nose to one side in one of his signature portrait devices, in which one half of the face appears as a profile, while the head itself has been viewed frontally. The present work and two others (Private collection, and Zervos, vol. 16, no. 528; Hamburger Kunstalle), was completed two days later, on 22 November. In the present work, Jacqueline is shown full-length and cross-legged on the floor, recalling the central femme d'Alger in Delacroix’s painting. Here, Picasso abstracted the female figure to an extreme. With her hands crossed in her lap, she is pictured in the same elaborately costume, but here Picasso has deconstructed Jacqueline into a complex, abstract arrangement of bold black and jewel-colored strokes, lines, and patterns. The background is composed of warm, sensuous tones of ochre, terracotta red, and luminous purple, all creating an atmosphere of heady exoticism.
Picasso returned to a more naturalistic rendering of the figure in the next painting, Femme à la veste turque of 24 November (Zervos, vol. 16, no. 527; Private collection). Her embroidered headscarf resembles a Spanish lace mantilla, and there is an element of Baroque chiaroscuro in the composite profile and frontal face, divided into contrasting half-moons of light and dark. This format and treatment would remain Picasso’s focus for the final three works of the series (Zervos, vol. 16, nos. 529-530, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and Private collection).
While Picasso would never again refer so directly to the art historical motif of the odalisque, Jacqueline remained a steadfast presence in every aspect of Picasso’s oeuvre. John Richardson has called this late period in Picasso's life and work “L'Epoque Jacqueline.” “It is her image that permeates Picasso's work from 1954 to his death, twice as long as any of her predecessors. It is her body that we are able to explore exhaustively and more intimately than any other body in the history of art. It is her solicitude and patience that sustained the artist in the face of declining health and death and enabled him to go on working in his ninety-second year. And lastly it is her vulnerability that gives a new intensity to the combination of cruelty and tenderness that endows Picasso's paintings of women with their pathos and their strength” (op. cit., exh. cat., 1988, p. 47).
Acquired two years after its completion, Femme accroupie en costume turc II has remained in the family of the original collector for three generations and is coming to the market for the first time. This work was the centerpiece of an extensive collection of over 100 works formed throughout the 1950s and 60s. The collection contained works by the towering figures of twentieth-century art such as Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Max Ernst, among others. They were often acquired either directly from the artists with whom the collector, a German émigré to the US in the 1930s, shared personal friendships, or through their primary dealers such as Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler and Aimé Maeght, historic figures in their own right. The present work was included in the landmark 75th anniversary exhibition of Picasso art held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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