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Homme à la pipe
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Homme à la pipe
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About the item

The monumental Homme à la pipe belongs to a major series of paintings that Picasso executed on the theme of the musketeer, which became one of the key subjects of his late œuvre. The image of the musketeer allowed Picasso to escape the limitations of contemporary subject matter and explore the spirit of a past age. These characters embodied the courtly mannerisms of the Renaissance gentleman and signified the golden age of painting, reflecting the influence of Rembrandt (fig. 1) on Picasso’s art.  Picasso had devoted a large portion of his time and passion throughout the 1960s to the reinterpretation and investigation of the old masters, an experience in which he reaffirmed his connection to some of the greatest painters in the history of art. The musketeer series was a continuation of this interest and began, according to his wife Jacqueline Roque, ‘when Picasso started to study Rembrandt,’ but his appreciation of other great figures of the Renaissance, including Shakespeare, also influenced the appearance of these characters.\n\nThe musketeers are understood to be disguised portraits of Picasso himself, and their iconography is indicative of his self-awareness in his mature years. Towards the end of his life, the image of the musketeer evoked Picasso’s Spanish heritage and his nostalgia for the youthful vigour of his early years. As Marie-Laure Bernadac has observed: ‘If woman was depicted in all her aspects in Picasso’s art, man always appeared in disguise or in a specific role, the painter at work or the musketeer. In 1966, a new and final character emerged in Picasso’s iconography and dominated his last period to the point of becoming its emblem. This was the Golden Age gentleman, a half-Spanish, half-Dutch musketeer dressed in richly adorned clothing complete with ruffs, a cape, boots, and a big plumed hat … All of these musketeers are men in disguise, romantic gentlemen, virile and arrogant soldiers, vainglorious and ridiculous despite their haughtiness. Dressed, armed, and helmeted, this man is always seen in action; sometimes the musketeer even takes up a brush and becomes the painter’ (Brigitte Léal, Christine Piot & Marie-Laure Bernadac, The Ultimate Picasso, New York, 2000, p. 455).\n\nHomme à la pipe is a dynamic painting which reflects the complexity of Picasso’s sentiments regarding his role as an artist. The subject of painter and model appears intermittently throughout his œuvre, particularly in the second half of his career, and expresses his psychological concerns regarding the act of painting. As discussed by Klaus Gallwitz: ‘Only with advancing years did Picasso recognize in painter and model the radical point of departure which elevates the physical process of painting to the subject of painting itself. Confrontation of the model unexpectedly leads to the artistic monologue, to reflections on realms which, far more even than the studio, are part of the artist’s ‘inwardness.’ The quintessence of painting acquires a new meaning when the model returns the painter’s glance and begins to ask questions which have previously been the prerogative of the artist. Parody, irony, self-irony, and paradox are the catalysts in this reversal, as the artist begins to justify himself before his work. Picasso accepted this self-formulated challenge’ (K. Gallwitz, Picasso: The Heroic Years, New York, 1985, p. 161).\n\nAs the character of the musketeer developed in Picasso’s paintings in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he became a multi-dimensional figure, exhibiting a range of personalities including card players, musicians (fig. 2), and pipe smokers, as in the present work; often they wear swords (fig. 3), or are accompanied by female nudes (fig. 4). The influence of Old Masters such as Velázquez and Delacroix is evident in Picasso’s works from this period, yet with his fluid technique, Picasso made no attempt here to create a spatial portrait. Rather, his flat layers of paint give the musketeer’s face a mask-like quality, with hair and facial features executed in quick, single brushstrokes. The monumentality of this work, the assured, energetic brushwork and the bold use of colour, are all testaments to the passion and vigour Picasso maintained into his later years.\n\nFig. 1, Rembrandt van Rijn, The Nightwatch (detail), 1642, oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam\nFig. 2, Pablo Picasso, Musicien à la guitare, 1972, oil on canvas, Musée Picasso, Paris\nFig. 3, Pablo Picasso, Matador, 1970, oil on canvas, Musée Picasso, Paris\nFig. 4, Pablo Picasso, Nu debout et mousquetaire assis, 1968, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York\nSigned Picasso (upper right); dated 29.11.68. on the reverse
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medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Pablo Picasso

dimensions

145.5 by 96.5cm.

literature

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso. Œuvres de 1967 et 1968, Paris, 1973, vol. 27, no. 383, illustrated pl. 164 William Rubin (ed.), Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation, New York, 1996, illustrated p. 166 The Picasso Project, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Sixties III. 1968-1969, San Francisco, 2003, no. 68-225, illustrated p. 75

provenance

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris Greer Gallery, New York (1968) Private Collection

signedDate

Signed Picasso (upper right); dated 29.11.68. on the reverse

time_period

Painted on 29th November 1968.

creator_nationality_dates

1881-1973


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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