This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Maya Widmaier-Picasso.
Pablo Picasso's Tête d'homme surmontée d'un chapeau is a colourful drawing executed in crayons and showing the Spanish artist's incredible sense of line. Picasso has left much of the sheet in reserve, pushing to the fore the bold forms largely outlined in blue, red and green. This deftly-rendered, highly expressive image shows a contemplative bearded man wearing what appears to be a barretina, the distinctive, sock-like red hat worn traditionally by Catalans. This had long been a symbol of Catalan identity, which had so often been suppressed by the various governments including that of Spain's then leader, General Franco. Picasso himself had spent several years of his life in Catalonia, especially in Barcelona, where much of his family still lived in the 1960s; he was therefore no doubt acutely aware of the issues that faced the region.
The specific plight of the Catalans may have been in Picasso's mind at the time that he created Tête d'homme surmontée d'un chapeau in part because he was being asked by Roland Penrose to lend two pictures to an exhibition in London at this time. These were not works by Picasso himself, but instead early portraits by the Catalan artist Joan Miró, whom he admired. One in particular showed a lady in traditional Catalan dress. Only half a decade after he had painted those works, Miró would begin to incorporate the barretina in a succession of his own pictures, in part alluding to the challenges facing the Catalan people while also admiring their rootedness to the soil and to their area, factors that Picasso himself doubtless admired.
Catalonia may also have been in his mind because his own work was gaining a new audience in Barcelona at the time, being exhibited to the public. Picasso had been unable to visit Spain for some time, unwilling to make any of the compromises that would allow him into the country. Instead, he remained a critic of Franco's regime. Accordingly, when what is now the Museu Picasso in Barcelona was originally opened in 1963, the year before Tête d'homme surmontée d'un chapeau was executed, it was named after his friend Jaime Sabartés, who donated a large bulk of the pictures that would form their collection.
Tête d'homme surmontée d'un chapeau was created on the same day as two pictures that Picasso drew as dedications in Les dames de Mougins, a book written by Hélène Parmelin and illustrated with Picasso's own works. This book had been released during the course of the same year by the publishers whom Picasso himself had helped found, Cercle d'art. It was in part through Picasso's encouragement of Charles Feld that it had been founded. Feld, who was the first owner of Tête d'homme surmontée d'un chapeau, had been a printer in the Resistance during the Occupation. The company that he founded became one of the most important printers of artist's books, not least because of the support and favour of Picasso himself.