Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
This Lot has been sourced from overseas. When au… Read more
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Tête de femme

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête de femme
signed 'Picasso' (upper right); dated and numbered '5.12.64. VII' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
21¾ x 18 1/8 in. (55.2 x 45.9 cm.)
Painted on 5 December 1964 (2)
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 61529) Kootz Gallery, New York
Irving Kay, New York (acquired circa 1968); sale, Christie's, New York, 3 May 2006, Lot 401
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso , Paris, 1971, vol. 24, no. 305 (illustrated, pl. 121).
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture: The Sixties II, 1964-1967 , San Francisco, 2002, p. 102, no. 64-305 (illustrated).
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Lot Essay

Executed in 1964, Tte de femme presents an immediate, dynamic example of the great creative energy which characterised Pablo Picasso's works in the 1960s. Outlined with a few heavy, yet energetic brushstrokes, the head of a woman appears on the canvas, brought to life through the use of vibrant Colours: , green and yellow. The painting exemplifies Picasso's talent for capturing his subject through a handful of well defined forms: here, using the whiteness of the canvas as an integral element of the composition, Picasso described the lively face of a woman by combining round lines with angular strokes.

The subject in Tte de femme is Jacqueline Roque, Picasso's second wife. During the 1960s, Picasso had widely explored the theme of the artist and his model in his works; Jacqueline, with her striking features, had provided the artist with a subject of inexhaustible inspiration. In Picasso's late works she became a meaningful and recurrent presence: "All of the women of these years are Jacqueline. The image of the woman he loves is a model imprinted deep within, and it emerges every time he paints a woman" (M. Bernadac, in Late Picasso , exh. cat. Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 78). In Tte de femme , Picasso focused on Jacqueline's head, capturing the wavy lines of her hair through concentric brushstrokes and the straight, elegant profile of her nose, by combining black and yellow angular forms.The portrait celebrates Jacqueline as Picasso's muse, his companion, but also as a universal female figure.

On the same day Picasso executed Tte de femme - 5 December 1964 - he also completed seven other related portraits (C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso , vol. 24, nos. 299-303, 306 and 305 in order of execution). The series includes some male heads with stubbly beards, to which Tte de femme offers a more gentle, female counterpart. The series in itself, however, illustrates Picasso's constant flow of invention, while celebrating the apparent effortlessness with which he could conjure people into existence through his art. The striking bright green detail in the portrait, moreover, might have been intended as an homage to Picasso's friend and rival, Henri Matisse, who had died in 1954. In La raie verte , the famous portrait of his wife Amlie, Matisse had portrayed his companion by accentuating her features through a bold green shadow cast across her face, which is seemingly echoed in Picasso's Tte de femme . V i v i d a n d instantaneous in its schematic composition, Tte de femme appears as a fascinating, almost calligraphic rendition of a human face through the simple means of flat colours and single brushstrokes.

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