PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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 THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Mousquetaire I (Espagnol du XVllème siècle)

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Mousquetaire I (Espagnol du XVllème siècle)
dated ‘21.4.67’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
51 x 38 1/4 in. (128.3 x 97.1 cm.)
Painted on 21 April 1967
The artist’s estate.
Marina Picasso, Paris (inv. no. 13611), by descent from the above, until at least October 1998.
Private collection, Switzerland.
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, New York, 8 November 2006, lot 85.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owner.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. XXV, Oeuvres de 1965 à 1967, Paris, 1972, no. 339 (illustrated pl. 147).
Johannesburg, The Goodman Gallery, Pablo Picasso, A Selection of Works from the collection of Marina Picasso, February - March 1984, no. 30, p. 39 (illustrated p. 36); this exhibition later travelled to Cape Town, South African National Gallery, April 1984.
Tokyo, Yomiuri Shimbun Sha, Pablo Picasso: Collection Marina Picasso, November 1986 - October 1987, no. PC-31, p. 131 (illustrated p. 38).
Caracas, Centro Cultural Consolidado, 5 Grandes de España: Picasso, Gris, González, Dalí, Miró, August - October 1992, no. 5 (illustrated).
Geneva, Petit Palais, Picasso, passion et création. Les 30 dernières années, July - October 1998, no. 31, p. 117 (illustrated p. 41).
Aarau, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Per Kirkeby. Kristall. Reflexionen, Beziehungen und Bezüge, February - April 2006, p. 165 (illustrated p. 104).
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Picasso, Mosqueteros, March - June 2009, pp. 84 & 274 (illustrated pp. 85 & 274; with incorrect medium).
Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Family Traces, July - November 2009, p. 85.
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. Christie's has provided a minimum price guarantee and has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold. See the Important Notices in the Conditions of Sale for more information.
Sale room notice
Please note, the work is dated on the reverse, and not signed and dated on the reverse as stated in the printed catalogue.

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Lot Essay

At the close of 1966, Pablo Picasso began to concentrate on the subject that has now come to define his late career work, that of the musketeer. The figure, at once historical and constructed, dominated his imagination and subsequent output. Picasso filled his canvases with colourful depictions of these impressive and ostentatiously-garbed characters that often served as stand-ins for the artist himself. While he returned repeatedly to the subject throughout the next five years, the paintings created between 1967 and 1968 are unmatched in their inventiveness and irresistible, infectious exuberance.
Executed on 21 April 1967, Mousquetaire I (Espagnol du XVllème siècle) is one of three musketeers that Picasso painted that day, all of whom share the same curly hair and jaunty moustache. Set against a soft yellow ground, the resplendent musketeer in the present work sits with his hands clasped on his lap as he stares ahead to return the viewer’s own gaze. Baroque in attitude and attire, Picasso has dressed his musketeer in blue and black. A flash of dandyism is evident in this extravagant costume, complete with pearlescent buttons and a ruffly cravat, all rendered in loose, flowing brushwork.
During a period of convalescence in late 1965 and early 1966, Picasso began to re-read many classic works of literature, including plays and novels by Shakespeare, Balzac, Dickens as well as Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, whose tales of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis’ adventures clearly took root in his psyche. He had just begun painting again following his surgery, and before long a new character entered his work, the musketeer, or the Spanish version of the 17th century cavalier, the hidalgo, a rakish nobleman, skilled with the sword, daring in love, and outfitted in elaborate seventeenth-century costumes. The first oil painting of this series was completed in February 1967, and many musketeer heads and full-length seated portraits soon followed as Picasso worked with his typical enthusiasm. At the time, he was living with his wife Jacqueline Roque in his Mougins home Notre-Dame-de-Vie. His prolific output soon overwhelmed the space – so much so that he added two more studios to store the many canvases he had finished.
Picasso felt strong affection for his musketeers, ascribing personalities and foibles to them. The writer Hélène Parmelin recalled how he would joke around with his canvases, pointing to one figure or another and announcing, ‘With this one you’d better watch out. That one makes fun of us. That one is enormously satisfied. This one is a grave intellectual. And that one look how sad he is, the poor guy. He must be a painter’ (H. Parmelin quoted in Picasso: Tradition and Avant Garde, exh. cat., Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2006, p. 340). As any portrait artist would provide their subjects with individual attributes so too did Picasso differentiate between his musketeers, depicting one with a paintbrush and canvas or posing another next to a nude woman. In doing so, his troop of musketeers – who for centuries had stood for virility, masculinity, and strength – became vessels for the artist’s vision of himself that he wished the world to see. Just as he had done throughout his career with the figures of the harlequin, minotaur, and Mediterranean sailor, he used the musketeer to affirm his potency, heroic nature, wit, and charm. The musketeer, so celebrated for his bravado, daring exploits, and amorous liaisons, was the perfect foil for an artist in the last years of a long and boisterous life.
Picasso’s interest in the musketeer seems also to have been the next step after having spent the previous years in dialogue with – and waging battle against – the great artists of the past. Indeed, he had, in the last decades of his career, turned his attention back to the painters he would have encountered as a young artist at Madrid’s Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, and again, later, at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona. Starting in the mid-1950s, Picasso confronted the great masterpieces of his predecessors, riffing on and reimaging iconic works such as Eugène Delacroix’s Les femmes d’Alger, Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas, and Edouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, among others. ‘In old age,’ John Richardson explained, ‘Picasso would admit to being very conscious of old masters breathing down his neck. Far from being bothered by this, he was so secure in his genius that he conjured master after master into the heart of his work and had his way with them’ (J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso: The Early Years, London, 1992, vol. 1, p. 185).
The musketeer as a visual archetype offered Picasso a means to further his quest for artistic supremacy, and he borrowed motifs from a variety of periods including the European Baroque, the Dutch and Spanish Golden Age, French Modernism, and particularly the work of Velázquez, Delacroix, and Rembrandt; in look and demeaner, Mousquetaire I has something in common with Velázquez’s Philip IV of Spain in Brown and Silver, c. 1631-1632.
But it was Rembrandt, more than anyone, whose influence can be felt in the theoretical conceit behind the musketeers. Picasso engaged Rembrandt in an intimate and ongoing dialogue throughout the 1960s, and he increasingly identified with the Dutch Golden Age master. Both had enjoyed long careers, and both were fond of inserting themselves into their canvases. Above all, Picasso was drawn to Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings, whose quality and range he sought to emulate in his own prints. He frequently referenced Otto Benesch’s six-volume catalogue of Rembrandt’s drawings, and Roque confirmed that it was Rembrandt who inspired the musketeer series. ‘It happened,’ she told to André Malraux, ‘when Picasso started to study Rembrandt’ (J. Roque quoted in M.-L. Bernadac, ‘Picasso 1953-1972: Painting as Model’ in Late Picasso, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1988, p. 81).
By quoting different artist’s gestures and images, Picasso was not only measuring himself against his predecessors but also demonstrating his artistic power; he could and would, these works broadcasted, go toe to toe with the great masters of western art. Of this audacious display, Richardson wrote, ‘Why did Picasso lock horns with one great painter after another? Was it a trial of strength—arm wrestling? Was it out of admiration or mockery, irony or homage, Oedipal rivalry or Spanish chauvinism? Each case was different, but there is always an element of identification, an element of cannibalism involved—two elements that, as Freud pointed out, are part of the same process. Indeed Freud described the process of identification as ‘psychic cannibalism.’ You identified with someone; you cannibalized them; you assumed their powers. How accurately this described what Picasso was up to in his last years’ (J. Richardson, ‘The Catch in the Late Picasso,’ The New York Review of Books, 19 July 1984,
Widely acknowledged as a triumph of the artist’s later years, the musketeers fully capture Picasso’s artistic and intellectual range; they represent a lifetime’s worth of innovation that was far from its end. Mischievous, coy, and large in scale, the musketeers possess all the zest of an artist caught up by his new and enthralling idea. One can feel the vivacity in Mousquetaire I; the painting is a testament to Picasso’s unrelenting devotion to his art. ‘I have less and less time’, he said in a moment of poignant honesty, ‘and I have more and more to say’ (P. Picasso quoted in M-L. Bernadac, “Picasso 1953-1972: Painting as Model” in Late Picasso, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1988, p. 85).

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