Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
While Picasso's wife Jacqueline was the artist's chief model in his last years, the male figures in Picasso's late work have more varied sources. They are often an alternate representation of the artist himself, or they may be figures from fictional sources, such as the mousquetaires, or dead artists brought back to life. 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.
The often brawny, unshaven workingmen of the early 1960s soon gave way to the elegantly pointed moustaches and goatees of Picasso’s newly favored personae, characters in the heraldic costume of cavaliers and mousquetaires that he lifted from the Spanish Siglo de Oro and the northern Baroque of Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, and Frans Hals (fig. 1). In this guise of mock-historical role-playing Picasso presented himself to the world during the final years of his life.
Executed in 1966, the present Tête d’homme shows off the mirada fuerte, the strong gaze, for which Picasso was famous, an indication that the artist has in some way projected himself into this character, as a surrogate or an alter ego; elsewhere the artist attired these men in the striped fisherman’s jersey he liked to wear at home. These powerful eyes are one of the most striking and beguiling features seen in portraiture by the old masters to which Picasso has alluded here.
For these male heads and busts Picasso devised a particular set of facial traits, a physiognomy comprised of swerving, overlaid and intersecting strokes of color, to suggest the shape of the nose, the shadow on a cheek, the wide open eyes and raised brow. An array of green circles represent the man’s hair; layered strands of heavily applied blue and brown wax crayon describe his collar. “A few lines,” Picasso declared, “that’s enough isn’t it? What more need I do? What has to happen, when you finally look at it, is that drawing and color are the same thing” (quoted in Late Picasso, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 85).