Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Picasso’s time in Boisgeloup signified a renewal of creative energy. The artist purchased the Château de Boisgeloup near Gisors, northwest of Paris, in June 1930. This new environment provided an escape from city life and a sacred hideaway to pursue his love affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s young muse whom he had met in 1927. Here, the artist found a new lease on life, coupled with an abounding urge to innovate which prompted him into a new phase of creative experimentation. Picasso’s subject matter at this time drew not only on his ebullient beau, but also on the abundance of new possibilities offered to him through the medium of sculpture. He began in 1930 by creating a series of figures modelled in plaster and carved in wood in a variety of poses, both seated and standing, of which Femme débout is one. From here, Picasso would later progress into a series of important, large sculptures of Marie-Thérèse’s distinctive profile for which his Boisgeloup period is perhaps best-known.
Femme débout displays the rustic tooling of Picasso’s implement as he carved into the length of wood that would become her first incarnation from his mind’s eye, later immortalised in a small edition of four bronze casts that accurately translate the materiality of the original. Her attenuated form, created from the process of whittling back, shows influences from the Oceanic and African tribal sculpture that had inspired Picasso’s most significant breakthroughs, along with a prominent sense of antiquity in the elegant, stylised pose which stands tall and graceful, a monument to his goddess. A figure of the éternel féminin, Femme débout presents as a totem, a votive sculpture in homage to a number of female archetypes; the lover, the maiden and the huntress all in one, encapsulating the essence of his beloved Marie-Thérèse. Her loosened drapery suggests the classical inspiration, yet suggestively falls below her waist, revealing pointed breasts, her idealised young body displayed naked yet proud and unabashed. Anticipating his later Tanagra models from the 1950s, Femme débout is inherently less bound to the defining characteristics of the monumental heads of Marie-Thérèse that would come later, yet is no less inspired by her image in its abundant femininity and sensuality, the traits for which she is best known in Picasso’s work.