Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Picasso's wife Jacqueline was the artist's chief model in his last years. She did not actually need to pose; her mere presence was sufficient to trigger Picasso's imagination, so that she might appear as 'woman' in a countless variety of guises and settings, usually in an erotic context. The male figures in Picasso's late work have more varied sources. They are often some representation of the artist himself, transformed into men who may be far younger or even older and more wizened, as they play out their roles in his theater of memory. Or they may be figures out of old paintings or novels, like the mousquetaires, or dead artists brought back to life, like Rembrandt van Rijn or Edgar Degas. Prior to 1965, the young men and boys who feature in Picasso's paintings and drawings might easily recall faces or types that Picasso and Jacqueline encountered in day trips away from their home in Mougins. After November 1965, however, following major surgery, Picasso grew increasingly reclusive, relying ever more on memory and imagination to supply the many personages who populate his pictures.
One of the few men, apart from visitors, that Picasso regularly saw in his final years was his chauffeur Maurice Bresnu, who joined the Picasso household with his wife, also named Jacqueline, in early 1965. He served Picasso to the end of the artist's life and assisted his widow Jacqueline thereafter. Nicknamed "Nounours" ("Teddy-Bear"), Bresnu was an imposing, burly man. John Richardson has written: "henceforth Bresnu-like men with curly beards and blobs of dark hair would appear ever more frequently in the artist's imagery" (in "The Bresnu Collection," catalogue introduction, sale Christie's, New York, 19 November 1998, p. 6).
It has been widely assumed that Picasso's depictions of men in this manner represent some kind of self-portrait, in which the featured figure has become a surrogate or avatar for the artist. It seems likely that Picasso liked to project himself into these men whom he had created on canvas and on paper and identified with certain of their characteristics. Especially as he grew older, and his sexual powers were on the wane, Picasso developed a fondness for inserting himself into his compositions under the guise of a virile younger man, although he might as easily drop all pretense and depict himself just as he appeared, still with a powerful bull-like physique, tanned but white-haired and bald, or sometimes even with a grizzled beard, which he actually never wore.