PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE EAST COAST COLLECTION
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Femme s'essuyant les pieds (Françoise)

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Femme s'essuyant les pieds (Françoise)
signed and dated 'Picasso 30.3.53.' (upper left); dated again '30.3.53.' (on the reverse)
oil and sgraffito on canvas
18 1/8 x 13 in. (46 x 33 cm.)
Painted in Vallauris on 30 March 1953
Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris (no. 05074).
Morton G. Neumann, Chicago, by whom acquired from the above, and thence by descent; their sale, Sotheby's, New York, 17 November 1998, lot 116.
Private Collection, New York, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Acquavella Galleries, New York, by whom acquired from the above.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in May 2011.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. 15, Oeuvres de 1946 à 1953, Paris, 1965, no. 255, n.p. (illustrated pl. 144).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

The female bather was one of Pablo Picasso’s perennial motifs, appearing at different moments throughout his career in a variety of guises and artistic styles. From the overtly volumetric Neo-Classical goddesses of the early 1920s, to the multipartite, surrealist-inspired bathers painted later that decade, this subject provided Picasso with an inexhaustible inspiration, an enduring vehicle with which to enact his daring artistic experiments.

At the time he painted Femme s'essuyant les pieds (Françoise) in the spring of 1953, Picasso was living in his home, La Galloise in Vallauris, in the south of France. On 30 March, he painted two canvases of a seated, nude woman, pictured in the act of bathing. In one work, Femme à sa toilette (Zervos, vol. 15, no. 254; Private collection), she is seen scrubbing her raised leg with a brush. In the other, the present Femme s'essuyant les pieds (Françoise), the sitter has turned to face the other direction, and is drying her leg with a towel. Both women can be seen to represent Françoise Gilot, Picasso’s lover since 1946 and the mother of two of his children, Claude, born in 1947, and Paloma, who arrived two years later.

Living near to the Mediterranean, Picasso depicted Françoise as a nude bather on numerous occasions, and a few months later, on 9 July 1953, he painted his largest and most powerful version of this theme, Nu accroupi (Zervos, vol. 15, no. 292; The Saint Louis Museum of Art). The present work possesses the special distinction of alluding directly to one of Picasso’s finest and best-known Neo-Classical pictures: a bather that he had executed more than thirty years earlier in Fontainebleau during the summer of 1921, the pastel Nu assis s'essuyant le pied (Zervos, vol. 4, no. 330; Museum Berggruen, Berlin). The figures in this pastel and the present work share the same pose, and are similarly set against a blue background.

A further visual link can be added to this chain of artistic lineage and dialogue. Picasso’s Neo-Classical bathers of the 1920s were in part influenced by the late nudes of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who had died in 1919. Picasso had acquired one such work, titled Baigneuse assise dans une paysage, also known as Eurydice, in 1916 from his dealer of the time, Paul Rosenberg, who held a large number of works by Renoir in his inventory. Renoir’s Baigneuse became one of Picasso’s most prized possessions, and he kept it until his death; it is now in the collection of the Musée Picasso, Paris.

Each of these works can be seen to relate back to a classical source: Lo Spinario (‘The Boy with a Thorn’), a subject seen in a Hellenistic bronze in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome, and a Roman marble copy, circa 25-30 AD, based on a lost Hellenistic original, in the Castellani collection, also in Rome. Picasso may have seen one or the other during his 1917 stay in Rome while working on the sets for the Ballets Russes maestro, Serge Diaghilev’s ballet, Parade. Picasso and others latterly feminized this subject. In Femme s'essuyant les pieds (Françoise), he put his own modern spin on this classical subject.

Femme s'essuyant les pieds (Françoise) was formerly in the collection of the Chicago-born cosmetics magnate and collector, Morton G. Neumann. After a visit to Paris with his wife, Rose, Neumann began collecting and went on to acquire one of the greatest groupings of modern and contemporary art of the twentieth century, with works by artists including Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, Piet Mondrian and Joan Miró.

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