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 AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Femme nue assise

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Femme nue assise
signed '–Picasso–' (lower right)
oil on board laid down on panel
19 1⁄2 x 14 1⁄4 in. (49.5 x 36.2 cm.)
Painted in Paris in 1901
(Possibly) Galerie Vollard, Paris, by 1901.
Thorsten Olof Laurin, Stockholm.
Baron Eduard von der Heydt, Ascona, by whom acquired from the above via Galerie Thannhauser, circa 1930.
Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin & Dusseldorf, by September 1932.
Galerie Alex Vömel, Dusseldorf.
Private collection, Dusseldorf, by whom acquired from the above on 19 July 1935.
By descent from the above to the present owner.

The present work is being offered for sale pursuant to an agreement between the consignor and the heirs of Alfred Flechtheim. This resolves any dispute over ownership of the work and title will pass to the buyer.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. I, Œuvres de 1895 à 1906, Paris, 1957, no. 50 (illustrated pl. 22).
"Picasso 1964" in Jardin des arts, no. 112, March 1964, p. 7 (illustrated).
P. Daix & G. Boudaille, Picasso: The Blue and Rose Periods, A Catalogue Raisonné, 1900-1906, London, 1967, no. V. 6, pp. 156 & 162 (illustrated p. 162; catalogued as 'oil on wood panel').
J. Palau i Fabre, Picasso: Life and Work of the Early Years, 1881-1907, New York, 1981, no. 625, pp. 242 & 535 (illustrated pp. 242 & 250; titled 'Nude with Long Hair' and catalogued as 'oil on wood').
T. Bezzola, Picasso by Picasso: His First Museum Exhibition 1932, exh. cat., Kunsthaus, Zurich, 2010, no. 4, pp. 195 & 210 (illustrated p. 210; titled 'Akt im Atelier' and catalogued as 'oil on wood').
B. Wright, ed., Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901, exh. cat, The Courtauld Gallery, London, 2013, p. 178.
L. Madeline & V. Perdrisot-Cassan, Picasso 1932, exh. cat., Musée national Picasso, Paris, 2017, no. 4, p. 227 (titled 'Nu assis').
L. Le Bon, C. Bernardi, S. Molins & E. Philippot, Picasso: Bleu et rose, exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 2018, no. 5, p. 391.
(Possibly) Paris, Galerie Vollard, Exposition de tableaux de F. Iturrino et de P.-R. Picasso, June - July 1901, no. 5, p. 9 (titled 'Femme nue').
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Picasso, September - November 1932, no. 4, p. 1 (titled 'Akt im Atelier').
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.

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Lot Essay

“My exhibition in Paris has had some success,” Pablo Picasso wrote on 13 July 1901 to his friend Vidal Ventosa in Barcelona. “Almost all the papers have treated it favourably, which is something” (quoted in M. McCully, ed., A Picasso Anthology, Princeton, 1981, p. 35). The nineteen-year-old artist’s Paris debut, held in Ambroise Vollard’s gallery on rue Lafitte, was then about to close. About half of the 64 paintings and an unknown number of drawings would end up being sold, at low prices, but bringing Picasso the first substantial earnings from his work. Since his arrival at the end of May, only his second visit to Paris, until the opening on 24 June, the artist painted at the astonishing pace of two or three pictures a day, running the gamut of saleable Parisian subjects from modern life, rendered in current, progressive styles, to stock his premier showing.

Eager to capitalize on this achievement, during the summer of 1901, Picasso continued to throw himself into his work with unbounded fervor and exuberance, turning towards subjects that were meaningful to him personally. Living and working in the openly sexual, demi-mondaine environment of bohemian Paris—far freer than in deeply conservative Spain—was itself a compelling inducement for the artist to experience and express the desire, passion, and pathos of his early manhood. It was during this time that he painted Femme nue assise.

Having passed over Odette (Louise Lenoir), a girlfriend during his first Paris stay in 1900, and hooked up with Germaine Florentin (née Gargallo)—Odette’s friend, during the summer of 1901, Picasso began a relationship with a model known only as Blanche, a redhead, whom John Richardson believed the artist painted in La chambre bleue (Le Tub), completed in the early fall (Zervos, vol. 1, no. 103; A Life of Picasso, vol. 1, 1881-1906, New York, 1991, p. 226). Blanche could be the model in Femme nue assise, which probably preceded Le Tub.

Femme nue assise represents an early manifestation, in a career-long thread of artist and model paintings, of the notion by which Picasso, in his pursuit of l’éternel féminin, would equate art-making with desire, sex, and love. Moreover, as a practical matter at this time, having quickly squandered the proceeds from his Vollard sales, Picasso needed strong, new work to sell; he was again living hand to mouth in authentically desultory bohemian style, just as he had during his first, abortive Paris sojourn the year before.

Seated on the edge of a bed or divan, the model combs out her fiery tresses, which envelop her in a cloak of cascading, magmatic, Venetian red. A mirror behind her catches—in glinting flashes of her hair tone against a nebulous, blue void—the reflection of her presence. From a description by Picasso’s friend Jaime Sabartés of the boulevard de Clichy atelier that the artist shared with his agent Pere Mañach (who had arranged the Vollard exhibition), Richardson noted that “between the studio and Mañach’s room there was a fireplace with a mirror above it—the mirror in which Picasso looked long and deep in search of an image; few artists in history have been so preoccupied by their appearance or painted themselves in so many different guises” (ibid.).

Femme nue assise was later included in another landmark event in Picasso’s career—his first museum exhibition, a large, mid-career retrospective at the Kunsthaus Zürich, September-November 1932 (T. Bezzola, Picasso by Picasso: His First Museum Exhibition 1932, exh. cat., Zürich, 2010). By the time of the 1932 exhibition, Femme nue assise was held in the collection of one of the 20th Century’s greatest art dealers and a key supporter of the French avant-garde, Alfred Flechtheim.
Flechtheim had first seen Picasso’s art during a trip to Paris in 1906 and 1907, while visiting as part of his training as a grain merchant. This trip also provided him with a momentous introduction to Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who would become Flechtheim’s long-term associate. It was on Flechtheim’s initiative that a large selection of modern French art was presented to the public at the first Sonderbund Exhibition in Düsseldorf in 1909 and what had started as a private passion for modern art, became a change of career with the opening of his first gallery in Düsseldorf on 9 October 1913: the “Marchand Amateur” became an art dealer of the first order. 

After the end of World War I, Flechtheim resumed his business in 1919 and two years later he opened his Berlin branch. Situated in the middle of the Tiergartenviertel in Berlin, not far from Paul Cassirer’s Kunstsalon and the legendary Galerie Der Sturm, it quickly became the centre of attention. Flechtheim became the most influential interpreter of a French-influenced modernism in Germany and opened further branches in Cologne, Frankfurt am Main and Vienna. 

By 1933, modernism in Germany was defamed and publicly pilloried. Flechtheim, who was Jewish, became a target for National Socialist inflammatory articles. He was both personally threatened and effectively banned from his profession through his exclusion from the Reichskammer der bildenden Künste, the organization to which membership was compulsory for art dealers. His galleries closed, Flechtheim did not see any future in Germany and emigrated to London via Paris in late 1933. Although he hoped for a fresh start, Flechtheim was unable to build on his earlier successes. In 1937, tragedy befell him when, while in London, he fell and subsequently died. His reputation endured however, and he is now recognized as one of modern art’s greatest supporters.

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