Throughout the 1960s Picasso was mainly preoccupied with the theme of artist and model, and executed a number of variations on this subject. It proved to be one of his most passionate and energetic projects, inspired by the final love of the artist's life, Jacqueline Roque. The artist first explored this subject intensively in the spring of 1963, dividing the pictorial space vertically between the painter and his model (fig. 1). In the present Homme à la pipe et nu couché of 1967, the composition is oriented so that the seated man is positioned above the reclining female nude. As the character of the painter developed in Picasso's paintings in the 1960s and early 1970s, he became a multi-dimensional figure, exhibiting a range of personalities including card players, musketeers (fig. 2), musicians (fig. 3) and, as in the present work, a pipe smoker.
The image of Jacqueline, whom Picasso married in 1961, first appeared in his works in May 1954, and would dominate his art until the end of his career. Picasso's renderings of Jacqueline constitute the largest group of images of any of the women in his life. The artist first met Roque in 1952 at Vallauris during one of his visits to the Madoura pottery studio, where his ceramics were created and where Jacqueline had recently started working. Unlike his previous partner Françoise Gilot, Jacqueline was ever-accepting of the notoriously temperamental artist and his blind obsession with his art, and doted on him ceaselessly in his old age. Picasso experienced a calm and peace with this woman that he had not felt since his days with Marie-Thérèse Walther, and, like his golden mistress, Jacqueline became his muse for some of his most imaginative compositions.
Although in Homme à la pipe et nu couché the model's appearance does not reveal a direct likeness to Picasso's wife, she bears the features – particularly her long jet-black hair - that the artist always used to portray Jacqueline. With her voluptuous curves and unrestrained pose, the model represents the object of the artist's desire. Picasso's waning sexual potency is countered by his power of vision and creativity, by the swift, confident application of paint, and the remarkably bold free-flowing treatment of colour. The love that Picasso felt for his wife is reflected in the passionate vitality and excitement radiating from the present work. Positioned directly in front of the viewer, her pose of sleepy abandon conveys a universality and eternal presence, identifying Jacqueline as the ultimate feminine representation.
Homme à la pipe et nu couché is a dynamic painting which also 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).
Fig. 1, Pablo Picasso, Le Peintre et son modèle, 1963, oil on canvas, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich
Fig. 2, Pablo Picasso, Homme à la pipe, 1968, oil on canvas. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 7th February 2006
Fig. 3, Pablo Picasso, L'Aubade, 1965, oil on canvas, Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva
Oil on canvas
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum & Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Picasso: The Last Years, 1963-1973, 1984, no. 39
146 by 114cm. 57 1/2 by 44 7/8 in.
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1967 et 1968, Paris, 1973, vol. 27, no. 154, illustrated pl. 53
The Picasso Project, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Sixties II, 1964-1967, San Francisco, 2002, no. 67-414, illustrated p. 405
Estate of the artist
Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zurich
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1984