PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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Property from a Distinguished Collection
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Femme au chapeau assise

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Femme au chapeau assise
dated and numbered '28.7.71. II' (on the reverse)
oil and Ripolin on canvas
51 1/8 x 38 ¼ in. (130 x 97.1 cm.)
Painted in Mougins on 28 July 1971
Estate of the artist.
Paloma Picasso, Paris (by descent from the above).
The Pace Gallery, New York.
David L. and Gloria D. Wolper, Los Angeles; sale, Christie’s, New York, 15 May 1990, lot 79.
Private collection, New York (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 12 May 1998, lot 35.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
R. Alberti, Picasso: Le rayon ininterrompu, Paris, 1974, p. 235, no. 68 (illustrated in color).
D.D. Duncan, Goodbye Picasso, New York, 1974, p. 282 (illustrated in situ in the 1973 exhibition at Palais des Papes, Avignon).
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1978, vol. 33, no. 122 (illustrated, pl. 45).
Avignon, Palais des Papes, Picasso: 1970-1972, 201 peintures, May-September 1973, pp. 118 and 234, no. 101 (illustrated, p. 118).
New York, The Pace Gallery, Picasso: The Avignon Paintings, January-March 1981, p. 40 (illustrated in color, p. 41).
Kunstmuseum Basel, Pablo Picasso, Das Spätwerk: Themen 1964-1972, September-November 1981, pp. 58 and 165, no. 62 (illustrated in color, p. 59, fig. 60; illustrated in color on the cover).
Santa Barbara, Museum of Art, Pablo Picasso: Form and Line, July-August 1986.
Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Intimates and Confidantes in Art: Husbands, Wives, Lovers and Friends, February-May 1993 (illustrated).
Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Feminine Image, March-May 1997, pp. 19 and 90 (illustrated in color, p. 19, fig. 5; illustrated in color on the cover).
New York, Gagosian Gallery, A Foreigner Called Picasso, November 2023-February 2024, pp. 186 and 233 (illustrated in color, p. 187; illustrated in color in situ in the exhibition, p. 183).

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

Lot Essay

In 1973, the stately Palais des Papes in Avignon was filled with Pablo Picasso’s latest work. His favored characters from this period—toreadors, lovers, musketeers and more—had all been captured by Picasso in paintings executed during the final years of his life and chosen by the artist himself for the exhibition. The only figure missing was Picasso, who had passed away just one month before its opening on 23 May. Resplendent among the canvases that filled the space was Femme au chapeau assise, painted two years prior, depicting a seated woman sporting a wide-brimmed hat. Formerly in the collection of Picasso’s daughter, Paloma, and latterly owned by the American film and television producer, David L. Wolper and his wife, Gloria, this painting has since remained in the same private collection for over two decades.
Throughout this period of his life, Picasso most frequently depicted his wife, Jacqueline in his painting. Though she did not sit for him, it was her image that permeated all of the artist’s depictions of women in various guises or settings. With her powerful, dark-eyed gaze, the sitter of the present work shares similarities with his final great love, companion and constant muse. Enthroned in a chair, with her legs crossed and hands clasped, she appears seigniorial, the undisputed mistress of Notre-Dame-de-Vie, the spacious, secluded farmhouse set on the hillside of Mougins where the couple had moved in June 1961, three months after their wedding. This would be Picasso and Jacqueline’s home for the rest of the artist’s life, as well as the backdrop for the incredible explosion of creativity that distinguishes the final two decades of his prodigious career.
The motif of a woman seated in an armchair was one of the artist’s preferred subjects, appearing time and time again throughout the artist’s career. From the masterful cubist Femme en chemise (Zervos, vol. 2, no. 522) to the sensual depictions of his golden haired muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, and the highly wrought images of Dora Maar, Picasso constantly returned to this format, the abiding pictorial idiom defined primarily by the associated iconography of his lover at the time.
In addition, Picasso frequently portrayed his sitters sporting hats, which he often altered to best suit their personality. In the present work, the yellow-colored hat that the protagonist is wearing is reminiscent of the straw hat that Vincent van Gogh painted himself wearing. Picasso had long admired the Dutch artist and was said to have felt a strong affiliation with him in later life, referring to him, John Richardson has stated, as his patron saint (quoted in “L’Époque Jacqueline,” in Late Picasso, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 32). It is said that he used to project one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits onto his studio walls and, as his friend, the writer Hélène Parmelin recalled, “Picasso talks about Van Gogh all the time, and thinks about him all the time… For him, Van Gogh is the one painter whose life was exemplary, up to and including his death” (Picasso Says…, London, 1969, p. 37). Unlike the other artists to whom Picasso looked to in his late career—Eugène Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Diego Velázquez and Rembrandt van Rijn, among others—his artistic dialogue with Van Gogh went beyond the appropriation of compositions or themes, manifesting itself as a deep spiritual identification with the artist. Using the same vigorous, expressive and instinctive brushwork, Picasso, like Van Gogh, frequently painted his own image, and at times those around him, creating powerful works that proudly declare, affirm and celebrate his life-long identity as an artist.
“I have less and less time, and I have more and more to say,” Picasso stated in 1971 (quoted in M.L. Bernadac, “Picasso 1953-1972: Painting as Model,” exh. cat., op. cit., 1988, p. 85). This sense of urgency defines the artist’s late work, as he painted with an increased sense of vigor, directness and spontaneity. The vitality of his art in his final years were due, in part, to his adoption of a system of codified signs that allowed him to summarize his subjects. As he explained to Parmelin, “I want to say the nude. I don’t want to make a nude like a nude. I only want to say breast, say foot, say hand, belly. If I can find the way to say it, that’s enough. I don’t want to paint the nude from head to foot, but just be able to say it. That’s what I want. When we’re talking about it, a single word is enough. Here, one single look and the nude tells you what it is, without a word” (quoted in op. cit., 1969, p. 91). Femme au chapeau assise demonstrates this bold artistic approach. The verdant, exterior setting in which the sitter is posed is described with emphatic strokes of color and a series of short, diagonal lines. The figure’s body is likewise denoted with a series of rapid black outlines, as the artist has painted the essential elements of her image in a succinct, impactful way.
Large-scale canvases as exemplified by Femme au chapeau assise are filled with vitality and life, as the artist applied gestural strokes of boldly colored oil paint, and in the present work, Ripolin, an industrial type of enamel paint favored by Picasso at this time. As a result, he created a style of painting which, against a backdrop of Minimalism and Conceptualism, defied convention once more, allowing him to remain at the forefront of contemporary art. “Speed allows him to be in two places at once, to belong to every century without losing touch with here and now,” the Mexican poet, Octavio Paz wrote. “He is not the painter of movement within painting: he is movement that has become painting. He paints out of urgent necessity, and what he paints is urgency itself. He is the Painter of Time” (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., 1988, p. 88).

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