Sold with a photo-certificate from Maya Widmaier Picasso dated Paris, 2 décembre de l'An 2000.
The present work is a moving testimony to the friendship between the surrealist poet René Char (1907-1988) and Pablo Picasso.
Both men would, throughout their lives, be involved in the same battles. They would share a common vision from their opposition to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s' to the fight against the installation of nuclear silos in Provence in 1966.
Both men met through the Surrealists in Paris in the 1930s, and their mutual opposition to the Franquist regime would bring them even closer. Picasso, among other artists such as Miró, Brauner, Tanguy and Valentine Hugo, would illustrate Char's anti-fascist poems published by Christian Zervos in his "Cahiers d'Art".
Both men were briefly separated during the War. During this time Char took to the "maquis" and was actively engaged in the Resistance. They came together again in December 1944 while contributing to "L'Eternelle Revue", an underground paper published by Paul Eluard. For the poet the painter and his work represented a powerful ally and complement to his poetic oeuvre in the battle against fascism.
In his Mille planches de salut, dedicated to Picasso in 1969, the poet sums up thirty years of friendship and struggle: '1939. L'oeuvre de Picasso, consciemment ou involontairement prévoyante, a su dresser pour l'esprit, bien avant qu'exista cette terreur, une contre-terreur. (...…); 1969. Trente as ! Picasso a depuis lors quité plusieurs planètes après les avoir équipées et réchauffées à ras bord'
After the War, the relationship between Char and Picasso deepened further as their mutual friends such as Braque, Giacometti, Breton, begin to dissapear. Picasso and his wife asked the poet to write the preface of the Picasso exhibition that was held at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, which opened a few days after the death of the painter in 1973.
It is as a continued testimony of all these years of friendship and common struggle that Jacqueline Picasso would give this work to the poet in 1983.
In the mid-60's, Picasso introduced the theme of the Musketeer, a depiction of comic virility as a mask for his own feelings of aging masculinity. In addition to these sligthly humourous depictions, Picasso also paints a more serious group of male faces, a group that includes the present work. Marie-Laure de Bernardac writes 'Parallel with (the musketeers) Picasso paints a gallery of portraits of men who are seen 'in majesty', writing or smoking. With their bearded, elongated faces, their huge questioning eyes, their long hair with or without hat, these 'Heads' represent one last concession on the painter's part to the 'all-too-human'. In contrast with the Musketeers - who all have the same face - these are true portraits strongly characterised and individualised.' (Marie-Laure Bernardac, "Picasso 1953-1972"» in Late Picasso, Exhibition Catalogue, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1988, p.82)