Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Nu se coiffant

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Nu se coiffant
charcoal on paper
24 1/4 x 18 3/8 in. (61.6 x 46.5 cm.)
Drawn circa 1905-1906
Juan Carlos Blanco, Montevideo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1969.
(possibly) M. Amaya, 'Art: Drawings of the Female Nude', in Architectural Digest, June 1978 (illustrated p. 76).
D. Chevalier, Picasso, The Blue and Rose Periods, Bergamo, 1991 (illustrated p. 86).
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Please note that Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Brought to you by

Jessica Brook
Jessica Brook

Lot Essay

Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Picasso executed this drawing of a young woman arranging her hair as he entered the final phase of his Rose period. It displays the spring-like felicity and sensuality that began to resurface in his painting in late 1904, and which was in full bloom by 1906, as the artist put behind him the wintry melancholia, pathos and icy tonal austerity of the Blue period.

Picasso’s interest in the subject of a woman arranging her hair was a recent development in his work. Degas had treated this theme in his late pastels and drawings; this bachelor artist had to create these scenes with the use of paid models, whose figures and poses he depicted in a realistically modern context. Picasso’s approach, by contrast, was lyrical and stylised. Picasso, then not yet 25 years old, had been living with his mistress Fernande Olivier, who Maya Widmaier-Picasso has identified as the model for this drawing, since late 1904. Picasso was attracted to what John Richardson has described as Fernande’s ‘voluptuous looks’ (J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso, vol. I, 1881-1906, New York, 1991, p. 315). She had long auburn tresses, which required much brushing and care, even if, in the fashion of the period, she wore it pinned up in a knot atop her head and covered it with a hat or kerchief when she appeared in public. Picasso was now privy to a woman’s intimate ritual of dressing and arranging her hair. This casual access to the boudoir, and a woman at her toilette, encouraged Picasso to play the voyeur, a role that he enjoyed and put to good use in his work throughout his career, and allowed him the opportunity to observe a prosaic yet seemingly mysterious feminine routine which has long held fetishistic interest for the curious male gaze.

There was another catalyst for Picasso’s interest with this subject: the 1905 Salon d’Automne featured special exhibitions devoted to the work of Ingres and Manet. Richardson notes, ‘Even more of a revelation than the Manets was the Ingres retrospective…above all the forgotten masterpiece Le Bain turc’ (ibid., p. 421), which features an odalisque having her hair perfumed. Her presence appears to have stimulated Picasso’s already growing preoccupation with the coiffure theme.

The hairdressing theme became central to Picasso’s work in Gósol, where this work was most likely drawn, where he and Fernande stayed from late May to the end of July 1906, as seen in Le harem (Zervos I.321; The Cleveland Museum of Art) and La Jeune fille à la chèvre (The Barnes Foundation).

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